Monday, November 16, 2009


Hi. My name is Scarlet B, and I have parking anxiety.

Due to practical considerations, I drive a Suburban most of the time. Just in case you are not aware, Suburbans are big vehicles, much, much, MUCH larger than the little Toyota Tersel that was my first car. This summer I kept thinking, I gotta take the kids to the children's museum, I gotta take the kids to the science museum, but I didn't because I knew I would have to park in a parking garage. I have avoided THE MALL for the same reason. I've come to a point now where I'm fine parking in diagonal spots, but where the spaces are straight in, I must park in a pull-through location, even if it means I'm walking for a long time to get to where I'm going. This is progress.

My husband laughs about my parking anxiety, but I honestly think it's a good thing. After all, I haven't crashed in to anything yet. However, it seems like when you're arranging your life so that you will avoid difficult parking situations, it tends to be somewhat limiting. That's how I know I have a problem. I don't think there's a 12 step program for parking...yet.

A couple of weekends ago, my kids' school held their annual bazaar fundraiser. Hubby took the little car into the cities for a football game, leaving me with the 'Burban. I'm sure he was thinking it would be more comfortable for me and the kids, but he didn't take my parking anxiety into account (that's because my hubby has never felt vehicle or driving anxiety of any kind). I knew that parking would be difficult. There are exactly 4 pull-through spots at their school, and about 20 diagonal spots, in addition to about 24 straight in slots. I decided we wouldn't go. No way was there going to be a good parking outcome for me and my boat, with that many other people around. But Logo really, really wanted to go, and so, finally, I relented. I told myself that we could drive by and if there wasn't any parking I could just drive back on home. Don't ask what my plan was to placate the kids, if I had to bail.

I passed the first parking lot, the one with the pull-through spaces. No empty spots. In fact, people were already parked in non-spots: full. I drove along the road to the next lot. Several cars were already parked along the road, as well, leaving free only places where the ditch is very steep. I drove through the lot with the diagonal spaces. Nothing! I was ready to head for home when I saw Jack's mom heading toward a vehicle. "What's she doing?' I thought. She must be grabbing something from her car, because I know she wouldn't be leaving now. I drove back around, searching for an acceptable spot on the road. Nothing. I pulled back into the parking lot to turn around and saw...Jack's dad, backing out of their diagonal spot! My pulse quickened. I hoped I could get there in time...this was my one chance to salvage the situation and...victory! I snagged the spot.

It was a good outcome this time. We went to the bazaar and had lots of fun. Got lots of useless little prizes that are now broken or lost. But if Jack's dad hadn't left at that exact moment (Code-man told me later he was taking Jack to a hockey tournament), we wouldn't have. I've just done the first step, admitting I have a problem, so hopefully, now I can be on the road (ha) to recovery. This week, the school, next week, THE MALL!

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