Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Why I dread my rubbish parking being exposed on Facebook

“MATE!” one of my fellow petrolheads sometimes shouts when I’ve parallel parked. “Did you get your licence in a LUCKY BAG?”

You’d think for someone who’s driven everything from the Smart ForTwo to a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow that I’d be able to park anything perfectly, perhaps with my eyes shut. Not so. I might as well ‘fess up there are occasions when, dear reader, I can still fluff up a bit of parking in finest Maureen-from-Driving-School style.

There were, for instance, the handful of occasions when my Renault 5 would make me come over all French and adopt a distinctly laissez faire – and not entirely parallel – approach to slotting a small hatchback alongside a kerb. Then there was the time I spent ten minutes circling Tesco’s car park looking for one of those elusive double spaces, largely because I didn’t want the shame of pranging a very pricey Lotus Evora that wasn’t mine in a bodged bit of easing backwards into a tight space.

My worst – and simultaneously best - spot of parking, however, was making the most of owning a Mini by successfully squeezing it into the smallest space possible. It was a brilliant endorsement of everything Alec Issigonis stood for, but it might have made life a bit difficult for the chap parked in front. 

Handful of confessions aside, however, I normally pride myself on not parking like a berk. This is a mighty good thing, because now there’s a Facebook group whose sole purpose is to expose when you do in Southport.

Ever since it’s entered my Likes list it’s amused and alarmed me in equal measure. On the one hand, there’s a childish delight at seeing all the dented hatchbacks dumped diagonally across a set of double yellow lines and wondering how anyone – especially anyone who’s mastered the theory test – can park THAT badly. There’s also the tense thrill of knowing my mate - who regularly parks his pride and joy across three spaces to prevent anyone else accidentally scratching it with a clumsily-opened door – is going to end up appearing on it.

Yet there is something unnerving about knowing there’s a band of cameraphone vigilantes deciding, using the powers vested in them by the internet, what does and doesn’t construe a decent parking job. Yes, there are plenty of bits of parking which can’t be anything other than just plain rude, but there are always shades of grey in what is, after all, a skill which we all have to some degree or other.

If you’re arrogant enough to dump an Audi Q7 in Asda’s only disabled parking space then you deserve everything you get, but I’ve seen plenty of pictures of what are just normal parking manouveres that – for whatever reason – aren’t quite bob on. Given I’m sure it’s happened to all of us, I’m not entirely sure I’d want smartphone addicts laughing at them between stints on Candy Crush.

Still, at least the Facebook group’s achieved its intended effect – I’ll be triple-checking all my parking jobs this Christmas.

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