JACQUELINE MALEY July 13, 2012
"I got quite far until the horrendous metallic scraping noise got too loud. It sounded like the jaws of hell were being opened."
Everyone has a unique skill and this is mine: I am the only person I know who has ever managed to run over her own car.
It happened about a year ago. I work in Parliament House in Canberra, and park my car in the employee carpark.
One morning I parked it a little too garrulously and lodged the front of my humble Holden Astra onto the small concrete barrier that sits at the front of car spots, to stop you from running into the wall.
I did this but I didn’t know I had done it, so when I returned to my car in the evening, I turned the music up loud and gaily reversed out, ripping off my bumper as I did so. I heard a terrible scraping noise and hit the brake. When I stopped the car, the scraping noise also stopped, so I figured I must have imagined it. (It is reflecting on moments like these that I marvel at the human capacity for denial.)
I reversed out, and began driving out of the carpark. I got quite far until the horrendous metallic scraping noise got too loud. It sounded like the jaws of hell were being opened. I stopped and got out, and realised in quick succession that the entire front of my car was gone, and that it was twisted in a macerated mess and enmeshed onto the under-carriage of my Holden. I had driven over my own car.
It was no longer possible to move backwards or forwards. I rang security and because I work at Parliament, two federal police officers turned up, looking capable and determined. Until they saw the mess I had created.
‘‘How did you do that?’’ one of them asked.
They spent nearly two hours using two jacks to lift the car’s body and gently ease the macerated bumper bar out from the under-carriage. All the outgoing vehicles from the carpark had to be re-directed during this time, causing a traffic jam of which the M5 would be proud.
The sad thing about this story is that since the incident, I have managed to rip my bumper bar off in the exact same way. Three more times. For a while I thought my sadly abused bumper bar was a metaphor for my life. Why do I keep making the same mistakes, over and over?
Now I just think I’m a bad parker. That successful parking is not part of my skill-set. So when I read this week that the mayor of a German town had introduced ‘‘easy’’ parking spots for women drivers, I did not think he was a sexist pig. I thought he was a sensible man and wished the Parliament House carpark controllers would take a leaf from his practical German man-book.
I have read about research claiming women have bad spatial awareness compared to men. I have heard anecdotal evidence about woman drivers. I know countries where women are prohibited from driving are the ones that generally have the worst human rights records.
But I also think that if one German councillor wants to make the world a better place for us lady-drivers, he should be allowed to get on with it without being decried as a chauvinist.