You want me to do what?

I’ve never parallel parked.

You heard me.


I have a phobia about parallel parking. Seriously. I took driver’s ed when I was fifteen and I completed the class with an A grade, but whenever we practiced parallel parking, I simply moved back in the line of drivers and didn’t actually parallel park. I took my driver’s test on my sixteenth birthday and I completed every task requested of me. Finally, the instructor and I are sitting in my car and there’s only one thing left to do.

“Okay Miss Collins,” he said. “If you could just pull forward and park between those two cars, we’ll finish this up.”

The car didn’t move.

I thought about trying it. Really I did. Instead, I turned to the older man in the passenger seat. “If I refuse to do it, will I fail the test?”

He frowned at me and looked over my scores. “Well, no. You’ve aced every part of the test. You pass whether you parallel park or not, but you might as well try.”

I put the car in reverse and parked it in a space in front of the building. (If you don’t parallel park, then what do you call parking in a regular space? It isn’t perpendicular parking or lateral parking?)

The instructor looked at me and I looked at him. He shrugged and said, “Congratulations. You are a licensed driver.”

That was over twenty years ago. To this day, I have never parallel parked. I’m an excellent driver and I handle a car well. I know that I could parallel park, but I don’t want to – ever, and I don’t even know why I have this issue. I just know that something in me prevents me from putting a car in that position.

What silly little things do you refuse to do?

95 Comments on “You want me to do what?”

  1. Yipee, first go…

    The photo is magnificent, high quality original not pillaged from somewhere, are you sure that it wasn’t you?

    My refusals are few, but having a urinary catheter inserted down John Thomas whilst I am still awake is certainly one…

    • Geez Dave, way to call me out in the first comment! I totally pillaged the picture:

      1) It’s interesting you named him John Thomas

      2) Not having a John Thomas of my own, I can’t say that I’ve been in that situation and I know how it feels. All I can say is that I can imagine and you have my sympathy.

      3) I believe you have very sound, legitimate reasons for your aversion to having another catheter inserted into John Thomas. I have no logical reasons to support my refusal to parallel park.

  2. That’s just crazy. I think that you could parallel park. What are you going to do when you hit it big and start making your books into movies, and you have to move to LA? You won’t be rich enough to have a driver yet, so you’ll have to learn to parallel park because there are no easy spaces in that city!

    There are only a few things I refuse to do; lose, pay too much for auto insurance, be ‘their’ puppet, handle that pill if I am or may become pregnant, rat on Vinny ‘the butcher’ Gambino, or allow a stranger to handle my luggage. Other than that I’m pretty much down for anything.

    Oh yea, what Dave said too. I’ll sign out AMA before that shit!!

    • Scotty Scotty Scotty…

      I’m sure I could parallel park, but I don’t want to and you can’t make me! Being an author, I also refuse to move to LA because I can write from anywhere and LA would slowly strangle the life out of me faster than the dry heat here. As far as your refusals go… I lose many times, but I also win many times but most of the time it ends in a draw. I have paid too much for auto insurance but only until I discovered the error. I pay taxes, therefore, I am a puppet. I am unconcerned about touching the pill, however I am very concerned about you if you are or may become pregnant. I’ve already ratted on Vinny so don’t even worry your pretty little head about it. I left my luggage alone with a stranger on more than one occasion, but in return, I was left alone with theirs. They won’t make that mistake ever again.

    • Oh Scott, and who exactly are YOU Calling crazy??? Who’s Batshit crazy?

  3. Bob Trusty says:

    Learn to drive in general. Mum thinks that its too dangerous for a man like me to be on the roads, so she forbids me to drive. Its ok though, im happy with the bus, walking and mum giving me a ride for all the chores that i do for her everyday.

    So just like you, ive never parallel parked either! LOSTL!


    • LOSTL Bob! If you need a ride, call me, however, that offer is only good within the continuous States and don’t expect me to parallel park. I’ll even teach you how to drive, but the aforementioned rules still apply.

  4. duncanr says:

    Parallel parking’s a bogey for me too, Claire. Do it if I have to, but avoid it if I can. Will drive another couple of blocks and walk back rather than parallel park in a space near to where I want to be.

    • That’s exactly what I do, Duncan. I drive a couple of blocks out of the way so I can have plenty of room to park.

      • Ditto to Duncanr. (And after reading through as editing this post, who knew this was such a common problem?) I avoid it at all costs, but unlike you, will occasionally try. The problem is that it takes me multiple tries and if someone is with me, it’s embarrassing.

        What won’t I do? Be early – I don’t arrive late, but I won’t arrive early. Scares me.

  5. I grew up in a rural community of 500… there was no such thing as parallel parking. As i recall when I went for my driving test, with my father, I was driving a 70’s something HUGE bright orange Buick station wagon… embarrassing all the way around!
    I can parallel park but frequently scrap my rims.

    I don’t like to dance when people might be watching!! I will slow dance but that’s it…

    • Hi DF! I took my driver’s test in a tiny little 1981 red Chevy Citation. I totalled that car before I turned 17.

      On my 16th birthday, I was up at 4 am to be at work by 4:30. I got off work at 1 in the afternoon, went and took the test, passed it, drove my mother back home, and then I went to sleep. I was too tired to even go out and drive!

  6. Bill Reed says:

    In the past two years many of the things I wouldn’t do have happned seemingly beyond my control (almost died, handcuffed, shackled, been a “person of interest” in a murder investigation in a murder investigation, etc.) so I don’t know how to answer your question! Just to set the record straight, I was the person who found a dead body and the death was eventually ruled as being from natural causes!

    I once promised myself that I would never fall in love again, but I couldn’t even mange that simple task!

    I have PROPERLY parallel parked once, following the instructions a friend had given me years before. That one attempt was successful, but I never tried it again; before and since that time I have always tried to find a parking space with plenty of room on all sides, so I can understand your reluctance!

    • Wow Bill! You’ve had an interesting couple of years! I am of the mindset that I can and will control whether or not I parallel park. I couldn’t control falling in love, and I pray I never get arrested or handcuffed or find a dead body, but those things would be out of my control.

      As far as parking goes, I will drive farther to find a space with plenty of room, or I will park in a parking garage which I detest only slightly above parallel parking.

  7. yorksnbeans says:

    First off, your story made me think of my driver’s test. We (police officer and moi) got into my car (which was parked on one of those regular angled spots) and I turned on the ignition, put the car in reverse, looked backward, stepped on the gas, but nothing happened. He could tell I was baffled, and finally he said “It might help to release the parking brake”. I thought I had failed without even moving! But, he was nice and let me continue. I did pass, but I did not have to parallel park. I can do it!

    What I refuse/can’t do is….put my face directly under a shower spray! I just can’t do it! Strange, huh?

  8. frigginloon says:

    I want to know how you got a photo of my friggin car Claire? And anywho that’s how baby cars are made!!!

  9. Ivan says:

    Ohh… is this the best test driving on earth or what?

    I imagine if I had turned to the guy in the passenger seat and asked: “If I refuse to do it, will I fail the test?” he would have probably said: “Son, this is not like telling your mom you are not gonna eat the broccolis!” or just yell out the window: “Next!!!!!!!!!!!!!”


    Parallel parking is the most feared and hated step of the whole test driving process here in Brazil. In the past people use to bribe the examiners. I did well without spending any extra cash, but I know many people who had to try more than five times to pass and some who had to bribe! Nowadays things are much more decent!

    In the US it’s possible to drive and not know how to parallel parking cause parking lots are available everywhere, which does not happen in here!

    But I can sympathize with you. I baffle everytime I have to do the dishes! I refuse! 😉

    Have a nice weekend, my friend!

  10. I call BS!!! Where did you get your license. I took my driving test in a 75 Olds Omega in the rain where the back window fogged up completely so I couldn’t see out of it. Aced everything until we get to Maneuverability (we had to manuever forward and backwards around some cones.

    I always started from a stop but when we got close, the instructor told me to keep going. Well I finish the forward motion out of place from where I would easily do the reverse. That and the fact I couldn’t see crap out of my back window caused me to hit one cone. ONE!!

    You know what that was. FAILURE. Come back another day and do that part of the test over.

    • Wow Bear! That’s awful! I took my test in lovely Blue Springs, Missouri. I took my test on a bright, sunny, summer afternoon. You failed your test from ONE cone?? I think your test giver just didn’t like bears or something!

  11. Catheters, rim scraping, dead bodies, Vinnie Gambino, baby-making, facial sprays? Where the hell am I, Sick Days?

    Well, whereever I am, I feel strangely at home. I too flunked the parallel parking, in a 4-door sedan of a reasonable length. Mine was right at the start, and after two embarrassing tries I was able to continue driving like a normal person and pass my test.

    Oddly enough, I have no accidents on my record which leads me to believe that parallel parking should go the way of the newspaper and daylight savings time: to a dusty, relic-filled grave.

    Speaking of which… on second thought, let’s change subjects back to the original subject. I was able to secure a Class B license to drive actual delivery trucks (not to exceed 28 ft. in length with a non-detachable trailer… in other words, a step below driving a semi). Sure, there were complicated air brake procedures and a pre-trip inspection to worry about, but no stupid parallel parking.

    • Welcome home, CLT!

      I’ll take your location confusion as a compliment. I can’t believe you flunked anything in your whole life. I think it’s just diabolical that they would put the parallel parking first. If they did that to me, I STILL wouldn’t have my driver’s license.

      I have a mental image of you parallel parking a double trailered semi… I know you could do it.

      And that’s your compliment of the day!

  12. womaninblack says:

    Parallel parking I don’t mind, although I am no expert (I have the Mini Cooper spoken about above, and can confirm that shoehorning it into a tiny space is pretty easy).

    The irrational thing I won’t do is turn round if someone shouts in my direction in the street or honks their horn at me. Unless they specifically shout my name, I won’t turn round. I think it stems from turning round when someone whistled (not at me, it turned out) and feeling the burn of shame as I had to accept that everyone who’d seen me turn thought I thought I was the kind of women men whistle at.

    Over-analysis: gotta love it.

    • My husband is infatuated with the Mini Cooper. He can’t even explain why, and he’s a big burly manly kind of guy. You’d think he would want to drive a truck (Like I do) or a sports car or a luxury car. Nope. If we won the lottery, he’d buy a mini cooper first. I think when I pay off my truck, he will get one, and then I’m going to practice parallel parking it!.

      I do the same thing with the turning around thing. They would have to say my name to get me to turn around, and do we really want to be the kind of women men whistle at? I’d rather be the kind of woman men respect.

  13. womaninblack says:

    ‘The kind of women’? I am not yet, as far as I know, plural. Although I have had two children. And losing that last bit of pregnancy weight is difficult (nine years down the line, I still haven’t managed it).

  14. I grew up in a town of forty people. We didn’t have parallel parking in our test, but we did have to show we could properly hitch a trailer. I learned to parallel double park when I lived in North Jersey because I drove a gypsy cab at night in Manhattan.

    The one thing I won’t do is tell a story without embellishment.

    • I can properly hitch a trailer. It didn’t make any sense that I needed to know how to parallel park. The town I lived in had no parallel parking spaces at all but there were more than forty residents. Parallel double park? Impressive. I think the woman in the photo at the top was trying to vertically parallel park.

      I think most stories require a certain level of embellishment.

  15. bschooled says:

    Ha! I still remember my first (and only) parallel parking experience.

    I went for my drivers test, and P.P. was first on the list. If you failed that, you failed the test. My Dad was leaning against his car, watching me from a few hundred metres away as I did what the instructor requested.

    It was the worst PP ever, and I noticed my Dad get back into his car afterwards. But the instructor told me to keep going.

    After I was finished, he said he could either pass me or fail me, but it was his last day of work and he was feeling generous.

    I was so excited I went to tell my Dad, and his jaw hit the floor. He was so sure I’d failed during the P.P. test, that he got back in his car so we could leave stat. He couldn’t figure out why the guy was letting me drive away after that monstrosity of a parking job.

    Needless to say my dad never once loaned me his car.

  16. George says:

    I was totally against parallel parking until I grew tired of walking long distances from my “safe” parking space. Now I’ll do it only if I feel that I have ample enough room to negotiate it. Try it just once with some pylons, and you may be able to get ‘er done. Good luck!

    • I’ve been driving long enough that I believe I can do it, I just don’t want to. I’m going to have it put on my Tombstone:

      Here lies Claire Collins,
      Author Extraordinaire
      Lived to the ripe old age of 137
      and never parallel parked!

  17. spamwarrior says:

    That is insane.


    Speaking of driving, I got into my first accident today… backing out of the driveway, a car was parked behind me. I heard a crunch… and that was it. The car was a rented car. The whole experience was traumatic.

  18. I never back up if I don’t have to. I will drive to a parking spot and cross the line so when I pull out, I am going forward.

    • There we go. A man after my own heart. We have so much in common, Ahmnodt – except for that whole political thing you have going on. Other than that, we have so much in common! 😉

  19. spikeace says:

    While I pride myself inacing Parallel parking, I make the occasional mistake myself! Dont blame you for not doing it! Its much easier in USA than in India! 😀

    • Hi Spike! I saw you moved to wordpress! Do you like it?

      As for parallel parking: that makes 2 countries I will never be able to drive in – Brazil and India!

      Anyone who can parallel park has my respect.

      • spikeace says:

        Hi Claire,
        Thanks for noticing…. WP is good, however I found ONE thing that has irked me and for which I will have to keep my blogger blog alive! When someone in your blogroll updated their blog, there is no way you can know about it in WP. In blogger, there is a widget that will inform you at a glance.
        Lol @ not being able to drive in India. If you make a trip to India and meet me, I’ll make sure I put you behind the wheel in the most crowded place possible…. err, did I tell you 95% of the cars here have Stick shift!!!! That will make the water torture seem like a walk in the park 😛

        • Spike, that is just so mean. How many cars do you want to see me destroy?

          Ahhh but I can drive a stick!

          As for updated blogs, I think that’s what the blog surfer in the dashboard is for?

          • spikeace says:

            You find that to be mean? I thought it would be challenging… Thanks for pointing out the blog surfer to me! You saved me a lot of trouble, Claire!!

  20. G says:

    I actually don’t mind parallel parking. Due to having certain motor function problems, I parallel park strictly by using the back and side mirrors.

    As for not wanting to do certain things:

    1) Do a urine test.

    2) Having my eyes dialated. This one is a biggie because I drive myself to the eye doctors.

    • Hi G! Good to see you!

      I’m totally awed by you being able to parallel park only using the rearview and side mirrors. I can’t even do it if I have someone standing outside my window telling me what to do.

      I’ve had 4 kids and I’ve been drug tested for every job I’ve had for 10 years. I have no problem peeing in a cup.

      Okay, it’s just dangerous for them to dialate your eyes when you have to drive. Thankfully, my husband drives me when I have to have that done.

      • G says:


        Yeah, I simply can’t turn around and do it. I learned early on parallel park like that. I do not recommend it for anyone else, simply because I do it the same way I pass parked cars, with about three to five inches to spare.

        As for the eye thing, I actually had the doctor tell me one time when I didn’t want to have it done that I should spent money on a taxi.

        Shortly after that, I got shuffled over to another doctor within the practice.

        Strange that I’ve never had to pee in a cup for a job. Underwent three background checks in three years during at two different agencies while working for state government.

  21. Lily says:

    My Dear Claire,

    Guess what!? I LOVE Parallel Parking and do it wherever and whenever possible. I deliberately try to find the most difficult spot to do it in, like IN REVERSE down the steepest hill. This requires the utmost skill, as you can probably appreciate.

    The other parallel park I especially love is the one where you have to estimate whether or not your car will actually fit in the space. I hunt out really small spaces and test my driving skills, (I usually wait until I have about 20 cars banked up behind me so they have to stop and watch me perform the miraculous feat).

    What I truly get a kick out of, is the expression on other peoples’ faces when I actually manage to do it in one go!

    As for silly things I would absolutely not do (the list is endless). One thing I can assure you I hate, are those Ultrasound tests they do on your stomach which require you drinking ridiculous amounts (like 4 gallons) of water and then told not to pee for like, 3 hours before the test. This is one of the most ghastly experiences I have ever had. I call it water torture and I am not wrong and I refuse to ever do it again.

    All the best,

    Lily Fossil

    • Lily,
      You are such a phenom.

      I can see you holding traffic at bay while you whip into a parking space.

      And I totally agree about the water torture.

      It’s always wonderful to see you!

  22. I refuse to participate in any extracurricular activity that involves urine.

  23. Pat Bertram says:

    I have no idea what silly little things I refuse to do. I’d think about this, but I refuse to do it!

  24. cupofmondays says:

    I was able to pass the parallel parking part of the test. Of course it was easy since there were no other cars around so I’m not sure it should have counted. I think I have only had to do this a couple of times when we lived in the city. It took many attempts though and the other drivers behind me honked with encouragement and then passed with those strange one finger city waves.

    • Cup! It’s great to see you! City people – they’re just so darn nice with their encouragement and waving. Just makes you feel all warm and giddy all over. I also refuse to drive downtown. That place is insane.

  25. NobblySan says:

    Dancing! *shudders*

    Don’t do it – can’t do it – don’t want to do it.

    …so don’t even think about making me try to do it – OK?

  26. I just recently learned to spell parallel properly…as for the parking part, furgetaboutit.

    • I’m amazed, FJ. I thought for sure that you of all people would be a pro at parallel parking. The more I think about it though, the more I realize that there aren’t that many needs for parallel parking in your line of work.

  27. […] Note to Claire Collins: this video does include parallel parking. […]

  28. Bill Reed says:

    It all started to making sense when I realized that I’ve been double parked in a Parallel Universe … 🙂

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