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Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
BY TAYLOR LAPUMA, Lakewood High
When I found out I didn’t have to learn how to parallel park in order to get my driver’s license, I thought I was golden. I would just avoid parallel parking for the rest of my life. I was content with the fact that, to park in front of my house, I’d call my mom and have her move her car so I had a bigger space to pull into, or just have whoever was lucky enough to be sitting in the passenger seat parallel park my car for me.
That got old pretty fast, for everyone.
When I tried to take matters into my own hands and parallel park myself, I slammed into my best friend’s car. That was when I realized I had to learn. I sought out St. Petersburg High driver’s ed teacher, Steve Flanagan, who generously agreed to tolerate me. After checking my driver’s license and looking at my picture in what I’m sure was disgust, the parallel parking lesson began with Mr. Flanagan observing my technique as I maneuvered my mom’s Chevy Aveo. (Check out video by Alexa Hehl, St. Petersburg High, of Taylor and her parallel parking lesson. )
He soon made me aware of three problems:
Problem 1: Parking the car front-end first made it more difficult to position correctly into the spot.
Problem 2: I had absolutely no patience and was not making much of an effort.
Problem 3: I cared more about singing the song on the radio, people-watching or texting than actually parking. (Okay, I didn’t text in front of Mr. Flanagan, but it became clear to me that I had been spending more time concerned with these activities than with the intricacies of parking snuggled up to the curb.)
Not to mention, I never had been formally taught how to do this.
Mr. Flanagan, constantly shooting me looks of what I’m sure was disappointment, and with much head shaking, made me notice how terrible I was at driving in general.* I mean, I wasn’t using my mom’s car for the lesson because I wanted to; mine was in the shop getting body work done.**
But after about half an hour of frustration, backing my car at an angle between two cones, straightening the wheels, inching forward, turning the wheels, inching back, I finally got it.
Now I am more confident in my parallel parking skills. It still takes me a few tries, but a lot fewer than it used to. Now at least I don’t look like such a loser trying to park my car. I actually look like I know what I’m doing.
*Mr. Flanagan was actually a really good sport. Thanks, Mr. Flanagan!
**Check out tb-two.com and click on the car tab to see a previous story about my car-crunching.
Video by Alexa Hehl, St. Petersburg High