Thursday, March 17, 2011

never ask a woman driver...

I still remember the day I hit a car in Charlestown Square car park. I'd had a licence for a while but was fairly new to driving, since my parents didn't want any newly licensed daughter driving their only car, thanks all the same. Eventually I bought my own vehicle and set off alone to conquer Newcastle and its traffic.

On this particular occasion my mother was with me, sitting nervously in the front passenger seat rather than cowering in the back as she had in the past. The parking space was minuscule - my little Ford Laser was small, and that space seemed even smaller. (Put it down to my inexperience)

"Will I make it?" I asked Mum as I reversed out and started to swing around.
"You should be right," she said, and with that I crunched into the bumper of the rather new looking car beside me.

Shakily I got out and wrote a note for the windscreen, but before I could get in the car and skulk away, the driver of the neighbouring car arrived on the scene. Miraculously, by that stage the bumper had bounced back out and the damage was little more than a few scratches. It was a work car, she wasn't too bothered and I never heard anything more about it. The only lasting effect was a new-found reluctance to ask my mum for driving advice.

Which leaves me asking myself one question. Why, exactly, did I take the advice of the woman in the car park today? Same minuscule space in a dank, gloomy multi-story car park, only now I'm driving a car that seems to be the size of a truck when trying to negotiate my way into the space. Forward, back. Forward, back, check how close I am to the next car (about 30 centimetres, maybe less), precision steering, forward, back, forward, stop, but only because the woman waiting to drive out on the other side said 'you'll be right'. I pointed out how close I was to the other car. 'Nah, it's fine' she blithely enthused.

I tried to make it fine, I really did. I gingerly opened the car door, gently rested it against the other car (there was no other way) and attempted to squeeze my way through the gap... but there was just no getting my backside past the door. I had no intention of climbing over the gear stick to exit from the other side, so as soon as the lady drove away, I reversed and manoeuvred and parked in the centre of the space. No need to fold myself up concertina style in order to fit through an impossible space. Yay. I went on my merry way to borrow to interesting books from the library.

Anyway, this is such an anti-feminist thing to say, and I apologise... but no more asking women drivers for me. That spatial adjustment thing? I think there's something in it! I've hit another car, and embarrassed myself trying to squeeze through a space I was never intended to fit through. I'll trust my own judgement and hope I can beat all those spatial stereotypes alone!