Back that thing up

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who back into parking spaces, and those who don’t.

I’m of the pull-in persuasion. Some call that “sissy.” I drove a silver Geo “Prizm” for five years – that’s sissy. Not to mention degrading (people said it looked like a matchbox car stuffed with a piece of chewed bazooka). The only thing that car was missing was a “Care Bears” banana seat and handlebar streamers. So when it comes to parking my car – compared to what I’ve already endured – the shame is minimal.

The pride in people who take the time and initiative to back into a parking space, however, is maximum. Let’s admit it; those of us that are lousy at parking think they’re pretty cool, too. Don’t lie, we’re even a little bit jealous. Why wouldn’t we be? They’re fearless. In fact, people who back into parking spots go out of their way to find a challenge – just so they can stare it down and make it blink.

“It’s 5:30 p.m. on a Friday. We’re in the Price Chopper parking lot. It’s a packed house, folks. There’s a line of cars behind us. Motorists are hitting their horns waiting impatiently to get a spot. Rick, our driver, sees one up on the right. But it’s so tight, there’s only a dime’s width of clearance on either side. And, as if it couldn’t get any worse, there’s a group of mouthy kids on bikes and skateboards horsing around right where he needs to pull up to be able to back in,” the imaginary sports commentator in Rick’s head says. “He could always just pull-in the lazy way and avoid the trouble – or he could be a hero. What are you going to do, Rick? What are you going to do?”

Rick, determined as ever, replies out loud, “the only thing I know how.”

With that, he hammers his F-550 Super Duty extended cab in the direction of the trouble-making teenagers (who, before scattering for fear of getting run over, were actually harassing an old lady loading groceries into her station wagon). He gives the thankful woman a wink, looks in the mirror for a split second, cranks the wheel the other way and jams the truck in reverse.

“We’ve never seen anything so smooth,” the imaginary commentator says as the truck comes to a stop, successfully parked. “It looked like Rick’s Ford was doing the moonwalk.”

“Still got it,” Rick said with a grin.

What a performance. Aside from Rick’s amazing display of machismo, did you notice what he was driving? That’s right, a huge vehicle. It’s what makes people that back stuff up even more impressive. I can’t even push a stroller in reverse. People like Rick could’ve backed the Titanic through the North Atlantic with a snowmobile trailer hooked to it.

Sure, pulling in is easier. But it makes you wonder – why do people do some things, like parking, the hard way? Is it because they’re dumb? Is it because it’s fun? Or is it because they know if you put in the effort in the beginning, the hard part is always behind you?

I don’t know. But I did back into a cement pole the other day.

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