Tuesday, August 11, 2009


A long time ago, I wrote a blog about people insisting on parking their huge trucks backwards in stalls. This trend, oddly enough, has become more common and I often see soccer moms, little old ladies, men in suits, and the homeless backing their vehicles into parking stalls (the homeless just tend to walk backwards into the stall while making ‘beep beep’ noises).

Honestly, I could care less. Park frontwards, backwards, sideways, upside down, I really don’t care. If it makes you happy, then by all means.

However, I would like to suggest that you practice a bit first. It’s kind of sad watching someone trying to back into a stall and completely missing, then pulling out and going back in. Out and in, in and out, over and over, faster and faster, until finally, they make it in and come to a halt with a shudder. And then they have a cigarette.

NOTE: Yeah, it’s been a while.

And now, the true story that inspired this blog:

Last Sunday, I was running errands and was trying to exit a small strip mall. The entrance to the parking area was a long, narrow, two-way road with parking stalls along one side. The street was narrow enough that anyone pulling in or out of a stall needed both lanes clear. I was parked at the far end, furthest into the mall, and having finished my business, got into my car and started out.

Now, a large black SUV had just entered the parking lot and the driver, a middle-aged man, decided to back into the only available stall in the middle of the strip. This stall happened to already have two, large black SUVs on either side, so it was a tight fit. The driver proceeded to spend an entire song (Great Northern’s Houses), about four minutes, attempting to get his gigantic vehicle into the tiny little space.

By the time he actually got it in, a line had formed on both sides with cars trying to get both in and out. A few people had begun beeping at him.

NOTE: This is Redmond, Washington. We have some of the most courteous drivers in the world. Things that would get you shot and/or stabbed by Amish people in carriages merely warrant a few polite beeps here.

So, with the SUV finally in the stall, traffic began to move again. Being the first car exiting, I passed by and glanced over at the driver.

And here’s the punch line: There was not enough actual room for him to open his door. I am not kidding. His parking gymnastics were for naught as he couldn’t actually exit his vehicle.

I laughed and said to myself: “There’s Wednesday’s blog.”

Once again: If you must back your car into the stall, please,please please, practice first. Any maybe, measure your car.



Jerron said...

Man, I wish I could find the video. There's this chick in a little hatchback, trying to park in a spot twice as big as the car. It starts with one guy waiting for her. After 4 or 5 minutes on the video clock, and another 5 or 10 people (plus a crowd of spectators), he gets out, and parks it for her. It takes him a grand total of 2 seconds. Literally, on the clock. (It was a surveillance camera, with time stamp.)

But yeah, here in Detroit, that wouldn't happen. After about the first thirty seconds, someone would park it for you, too. And it wouldn't be at the mall, either. :P Unless they were the honest sort (then they would just ram you until you were out of the way).

Anonymous said...

It's could not care less!

TX_Val said...

Well the trend for big trucks is because it's just easier to park them that way, in the average parking lot (read: built for cars).

I live in Texas, in case you hadn't guessed, so trucks are rather common. I live out in the woods, I have a truck that I usually only drive on the weekends for errands. It's a long wheel base pick-up, with an 8 foot bed. It's nice to hit home depot/lowe's and just throw an 8 foot sheet of plywood into the bed without it sticking out. Same with 2x4's.
If you've ever driven a rear wheel steering vehicle, you'd understand. With the length of the vehicle, it's just easier to back in.

NOW, the taking forever to do it. That's just because people don't know how to drive. I've sat and watched people driving mid size sedan's that can't pull into a parking spot. Unfortunately my g/f is this way. She doesn't seem to understand what the lines are for in a parking lot.

mike said...

If you're gonna throw stuff into the back of your truck at Lowes or Home Depot why the hell would you back in? Doesnt that defeat the point of loading it more easily if there are other cars around you?

Jason Janicki said...

That sounds fun!

Would shooting be involved if someone parked your car in Detroit? Just curious . . . ;)

You're correct, anonymous. Thanks for the catch!

It's been a long time since I've driven a rear-wheel drive truck, so I hadn't considered that. It still doesn't explain why everyone else is doing it to, though :)

"gunner" said...

that's the thing i enjoyed about driving LARGE, HEAVY armoured trucks, the intimidation factor. the driver of even the biggest suv knowing that i could crush him like a bug without even denting a side panel of my truck.

"gunner" said...

by the way, just checked and we're up to #46 in the voting, i missed a day or two due to computer problems but i'm back on a limited basis. keep on voting, "early and often" chicago style.

TX_Val said...

Yeah, we're back to 47 :(

Well I messed up my point on the truck thing. I was just trying to explain I had a truck, but I don't drive it all the time. There is a difference in parking my little (sardine can 30mpg) gas getting, and my LONG 14 mpg pick up.

The main point I was trying to make is that the length is a factor on which vehicle you'd back in, and the fact that backing in changes you're pivot point and the alignment of the vehicle when pulling into a tight space.

I dont' back my truck in at home depot, but they usually have parking spots made for big vehicles, so they're easier to pull into.

Say you pull up to a pole (like the little yellow ones next to [guarding] gas pumps), how far do you let your wheels go passed it before you start to turn. Once you start to turn, the rear wheels start to make a line for the front of the car. If you're in a short car, then you might turn the wheels after barely passing the pole, but if you're in a truck that's 5 foot longer then your car, you'd let the front wheels get a few feet passed said pole, before making the turn. If you don't, you would probably drag the rear end into the pole. Think of seeing people jumping curbs with their rear tire when they turn to soon. Think of a rig, and how far into an intersection they go before they start turning, to drag the trailer with them.

So there's a difference pulling a long truck into a parking spot, versus a small car.

You change your pivot point if you're going in reverse, or driving a rear steering vehicle. I've worked with forklifts and cranes that are rear steering.

If you back the truck passed this 'pole' you can start turning as soon as the wheels pass the pole, because you end up swinging the front end around (away) from the pole, and lining it up, instead of dragging it around.

So when you try to pull into a parking spot going forward, you have to drag the rear in around and line it up, which is harder in tight spots, then backing in and being able to line the front end up (with the read) before you back into the spot. The visualization I'm trying to get here is that if you pull the car into the spot, you have to drive the front end close to one side so after you drag the rear in, you turn toward the other side, to "straighten" up the car, in the spot. It's like you're doing all your adjustments in this limited space. When you back in, you're putting the rear of the vehicle in the center of the spot, then you're swinging the front end around to straighten up, and it's still out in the aisle, where you have more room to maneuver.

Man I hope that makes sense, I don't want to have to bust out MS Paint and build a webpage to try and explain.

Oh, I had a friend that drives a truck say it's easier for him to see when he goes to pull out. In busy parking lots, that's important to keep from getting hit, and also worrying about kids.

Jerron said...

In Detroit, almost everything *might* include shooting. :P Especially if you tried to stop them from taking it. ;)

My favorite vehicle had 4 steering modes. You could front steer, like a regular car. You could rear steer, like a forklift truck. (In fact, this was a forklift truck, just a monster military one used for moving around explosives and stuff. Good to be able to steer well.) You could cramp steer, where the front and rear would turn in opposite directions (you could almost go in a zero-turn circle, but it didn't steer quite that tight. Not bad for something that could lift 2 cars.) And finally, you could crab steer, where the front and back wheels turned the same way (you could almost go sideways, but it didn't steer quite that tight, you ended up going more at a 45 degree sideways.) Plus, it had 4 wheel drive (and tires about 6' tall), and the boom could extend, get under a load, lift, and retract without ever moving the truck. And if the load was sideways, the suspension could be adjusted like a sideways low-rider, to tilt the whole truck to match the angle.

I had a lot of fun with that lift truck. :D

TX_Val said...

That's sounds like one hell of a life truck. Mad Max all the way. Do you know the official name for it? I'd love to look that puppy up.


Lorna said...

Call me dense.. but how do you practice without backing into parking spaces..? :)

Vancouver (BC) drivers are all impatient, rude and nasty. It's probably a good thing we don't have guns.

Jason Janicki said...

Well, you can't, but you can do it when there's no one else around, such as in the late evening or early morning. That way you have a much smaller chance of hitting someone or holding up traffic.

I guess I wasn't particularly specific about that :)