Monday, January 4, 2010


Dear Alternate Side Parker:

Why is it so hard to park behind an S.U.V.?

Dear Reader:

Funny you should ask. I recently parked in a tight space behind a blinding white Yukon XL. A friend in the passenger seat covered her eyes as I began my approach, but not before noticing that the Yukon's license plate began with the letters "CRK," an onomatapoeia for the sound of parallel parking.

The main problem with parking behind an S.U.V. (or van or pickup) is that you can't see around it. You tell yourself that it has the same footprint as an ordinary car—it's just taller—and you follow standard procedure: pull up along side it; back up, turning the steering wheel (and hence the rear of your car) toward the curb until your rear window aligns with the parked car's bumper; then straighten out and gradually turn the steering wheel in the other direction while backing into the car behind you. Crk.

At this point, as you put the car in drive and straighten out, you will notice that the S.U.V. is not only taller but also wider than your car by at least a foot. You may also notice that it is parked a foot from the curb. No wonder this is so difficult! But with the right combination of faith and skill, you, too, can successfully maneuver to within two feet of the curb.

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