Stories of a Big City Farm Girl, Vol. 2

Published: Sep 8, 2014

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of three posts from Lexi, our summer intern here in the Alumni Communications office, about her experiences as a new-to-Baltimore student.

In my last post, I described how different the driving conditions in Baltimore are from rural Delaware. Multiple lane highways, aggressive drivers, lots of honking, and mis-informed GPSes always created interesting adventures.

But did you know that in Delaware, a lot of high schools don’t require you to learn how to parallel park during driver’s ed? Well, Milford High School didn’t at least. We just had to be able to park between the lines, navigate the bumps of the backroads, and not panic when passing the chicken trucks or tractors on the highway. The horrors of parallel parking didn’t hit me until college, as I had never driven in any type of city conditions, let alone tried to park sideways in between two cars that were worth more than my entire college education.

photo via TripAdvisor
photo via TripAdvisor

My first “lesson” came when I had to go to a museum for an art class. There was a definite trend with my art class excursions causing me more trouble than they were worth. I had to go to the Walters Art Museum in Mount Vernon. I knew I’d only be there for about an hour, and there was no way I was going to pay for the parking garages in Baltimore, so street parking was my only option. After circling the area and managing to go down every one-way street there was in
Mount Vernon, I found a spot. It was a
parallel spot, and on the left side. I was ready.

I stopped my car, put on my blinker, and then panicked. I had never parallel parked before, let alone parked on the left side of the street. Thank goodness there wasn’t any traffic. I gently tapped my accelerator to back up, but I had turned the wheel too far. I had turned my car in a little arch in the middle of the street. I pulled up next to the compact car in front of me, and tried again. This time, I managed to get almost all the way into the spot, but didn’t turn the wheel enough, and again sat almost in the middle of the street. Third time’s the charm, right? Mirror to mirror, I backed my car into the spot, one inch at a time. But this time, I had it. I could feel it. My car glided into the spot with no problems, I straightened it out, put it in park, and screamed.

I had never been more proud of myself in my life (OK, that’s a slight exaggeration, but I was very happy). I began congratulating myself, turned up the radio, sang along a little bit to Train’s “Hey Soul Sister,” and then realized my windows were down and people were staring. Blushing and laughing, I calmly got out of the car and went to pay for my spot. I was still so excited and embarrassed that I couldn’t get money out of my wallet. But, I thought, you just parallel parked all by yourself.

When I got back to my dorm, I told one of my friends, who then laughed at me, and made me go back outside and learn how to parallel park. While he sat next to me, his roommate sat in the back, and they both took turns shouting directions at me as I tried to recreate my parking skills in the back road next to Potomac Hall. Cars drove by, we all kept yelling, people stared, and we all got frustrated. But, in the end, I had learned how to parallel park. By the time we were finished, I couldn’t help but think, When I go home for the summer, I’m going to forget how to do all of this.

-Lexi Coon

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