Friday, May 11, 2007

Honey I can’t park the car!

We finally got our act together and bought a car. No more standing in the sun waving down taxis or calling four cab companies on a rainy day and not getting through to even one. All our troubles are over!

But not so fast. Here’s the thing. We didn’t stay long enough in Hong Kong to get a car and when we lived in Tokyo our car had a great navigation system that included a back camera with parking guidance. It allows you to program up to four parking spots so that you can park into those spots following voice guidance. Although I never had the patience to read through the thick operational manual (in Japanese) to figure out how to program it that way, I made full use of the back camera. The navigator screen turned into a viewfinder for the camera whenever the car was in reverse. The best thing about the camera was that it not only showed you what was behind the car, it had two sets of lines on the screen. The green lines showed where the car was at the moment, and the red lines showed where the car was going based on the position of your steering wheel. At first it took a little getting used to, but once you learned how to decipher those lines, parking was a breeze.

I only realized now that I should’ve never become a slave of the camera. What’s wrong with parking the old-fashioned way, without the aid of any high tech devices? I was pretty good at it before we ever had the aid of the camera. I backed our SUV into small Tokyo parking spots with no difficulties, and squeezing into tight parallel spaces was my specialty. Three years with the back camera, I don’t even know which mirror to look at when backing up. It took me four or five tries to wiggle into our own parking spot in the basement the other day and when I parallel parked on a street I was so far from the curb that I was worried about getting hit by passing cars. I am so glad we bought a sedan instead of a big-assed SUV, or would that have been easier to park because of the raised vantage point? God help me the next time I have to park the car!

Oh, did I mention I also seemed to have lost the ability to read maps?

14 comments:

^cherie said...

This post tickled me. Grin.

I'm sure you'll get used to it in no time, given your experience.

I love the feeling of triumph whenever i managed to squeeze myself into that tiny parallel parking in 1-2 try!

Meanwhile, have fun learning how to park again ;)

Ales said...

ah Lynn, you are not alone. And I don't even have the excuse of the back camera ; ) (map? what's a map?)

Lynn said...

thanks girls, for the support! I found out last night though, that our car is actually really LONG. It's almost the same length as our friends' 7-seat people mover! Now I don't feel too bad, hehe

Brigitte said...

Hey Lynn, your story gives me finally an excuse why I'm switching off each and every electronic helper. I hate their noice, their flashing lights. I hate it when I feel as if I'm not the one who's having the control. I switch of the ABS and ESP system if there is any, I switch off everything. I don't need it, I don't want to get used by it. And our car couldn't be bigger, with 5 persons in a MPV. If I ever could I'd like to change to a manual gear car, I hate that automatic one we have, I'm not used to drive with it. I have always to bend my left leg back to keep myself from stepping the break instead of the nonexistent clutch pedal. Isn't that funny. Not only that you couldn't drive fast in Singapore you can't even accelerate as you want. And the car rental companies as well as the car show rooms provide almost no cars with a manual gear. (A Mini Cooper is a "bit" to small for us.)
And that's just the same with having a part or a full time maid, I mean domestic worker. I never had any help not even when my 3 children were babies and toddlers whilst my husband was still studying. Not even with the huge house we had in Germany nor with the 2 gardens or anything else. And I recognize all off my friends here becoming more and more addicted for help and getting lazier and lazier (and dissatisfied)each day. In the end they get that used of that kind of help that they can't manage neither their household nor their children when they move back to Gemany.
And by the way, soon you will recognize - Singapore is such a small island - believe me nobody needs a GPS here. If you need a directory go to this.

Lynn said...

Oh brigitte, you know how to drive a manual car! I just found out the price to pay for not knowing how to drive manual. Our rental car in France this summer is going to cost almost 1400 USD for two weeks vs. 700 USD for a manual one. The sad thing is that in the US, almost everyone drives a automatic.

thanks for the link to the map site. I hate that street directory where the pages don't connect!

Precious Moments said...

Don't worry Lynn, practise makes perfect. In no time, you wil be zipping in and out. Parallel parking will be as simple as ABC.

Brigitte, well said. I totally agree with you.

weili said...

Lynn: driving a manual car really isn't that difficult, with some practice I'm sure both you and hubby will manage.. and save some 700 USD for car rental :)

Lynn said...

Edith, you are right. I'm already getting used to parking the car. I guess I just didn't expect a sedan to be that long before!

Weili, I'm sure you're right, but none of our friends here own manual cars so we can't just borrow one and try. And it costs more than $700 to learn at a driving school. sigh, plus we've only got a month until Provence...

Anonymous said...

Hilarious. If your car's as long as a 7-seater, I'd say what the hell were you thinking when you guys bought the car??!?!??!? Fortunately for you, parking spaces aren't as tight as they are in Tokyo, but unfortunately for you, Singaporean drivers are known for road rage. Park properly, otherwise some meanie's going to scratch your paint work with a key. I should know because my mom's threatened to do it so many times to poor parkers...

PS: Looks like my blogger a/c's finally been deleted. - Hsin

Lynn said...

Hey, the person who drives around in a golf cart should talk! =oP
Thanks for the warning though, there's actually this couple in our bldg that routinely take up two parking spaces with their Renault! It's not even a big car for god's sake. Luckily we've got lots of empty spaces so nobody's likely to complain. I don't know how they ever manage to park elsewhere though.

Brigitte said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brigitte said...

Hehe, I know this very well, other drivers who need double the space to park their cars. And even if it sound rude but I have to write this, most of the drivers in Singapore are driving me nuts. They don't use their indicators and if then in the wrong direction. They drive either to fast or much to slow and they're unable to stay in their lanes. Sorry, but especially womens [Not to mention the taxi drivers ;-)]. My friends and I have already a theorie about this curiosity. We think the Singaporean femal drivers get their license automatically when their husband passed the driving test.
And Lynn are you serious? I've never heard about having only a driving license for automatic! To drive with automatic gear for me is as if I'm "playing" an electronic keyboard if not to say a player-piano instead of my "manual" pianoforte.

Brigitte said...

Regarding to the Singaporean parking skills - there is even a blog right just about this!

Lynn said...

yes brigitte, automatic only. guilty as charged. but I'm the type who view the car purely as a form of transportaion. If there were cars that drive themselves like in i-robot I'd probably buy it =oP

Thanks for the parking blog. I wonder why he stopped posting photos.

My friend actually told me that the reason why most drivers here don't indicate when they turn or change lanes is because they're afraid that the driver in the other lane will speed up and block them. This is the typical "giasu" mentality at work. She said she was almost hit a couple of times after she signaled to change lane. It's a lose-lose situation, sigh...