I have a confession to make: I am a backer-inner.
In other words, when it comes to parking my car, 9 times out of 10 I will back into a parking space, rather than pulling in hood first. Whenever anybody asks me why I insist on parking this way, I rattle off the same stock answer every time: When the shit goes down, I say, I want to be ready.
It’s only when pressed further that I come up empty. What “shit”, for instance, do I fear so much? And will being able to pull out of a parking spot quickly, without wasting precious seconds by glancing over my shoulder first, really be enough to make a difference?
Let’s just say I’d prefer to err on the side of caution and be done with it.
Still think I’m a paranoid, delusional fool and that backing in is a useless waste of time? Let’s play a little game I like to call What If and see who’s the crazy one now…
Scenario # 1: A Devastating Earthquake Strikes
Let’s say you’re wandering through Costco, your shopping cart overflowing with mega-size this and maxi-size that, drooling over the idea of a $1.50 hot dog and soda (with a free refill, even!), when a tremor hits. You abandon your cart, leaving behind the 100-pack of Top Ramen, the $7.00 denim shirt, and the bucket of pimento-stuffed green olives and make a mad dash through the aisles, weaving among throngs of people while avoiding 50-gallon drums of soy sauce and crates of Ultra Soft Charmin (they’d still leave quite a bump on your head!) tumbling from the overhead shelves. Maybe you’re lucky and your fellow shoppers are slow because they’ve stuffed themselves with free samples of chicken alfredo and microwavable Philly cheese steaks and yogurt, so you’re first out the door, bypassing the harried greeters still clutching fluorescent highlighters in their hands, waiting to make a slash mark through your receipt (why??) even though there is no way they can possibly confirm that everything in your cart has been paid for properly. You are first to the parking lot, reach your car in record time, fumble for the ignition, start it up, throw it into reverse…and are swallowed by the giant fissure that has opened up in the earth, a la Superman: The Movie. Lois Lane never saw it, either. Unlike the film, don’t think some guy in a cape and tights is going to be able to fly so fast he’ll make the earth spin backwards and go back in time to save your sorry ass, either.
Tsk, tsk. If only you’d backed in…
Scenario # 2: Zombies Attack
So you’re at the nearest Starbucks, approximately 1.5 miles from the next nearest Starbucks (just across the street from the Safeway with a Starbucks kiosk inside), idly looking at the track listing on the CD for sale by the Once Huge Star Whose Sales Have Dropped So Precipitously He Has Been Fired From His Label And Can Only Release New Music Through A Coffee Chain. Your eyes barely scan the menu, for you always order the same drink with the vaguely Italian-sounding name, adding a shot of vanilla or caramel or an extra dose of espresso simply because you feel cool doing it. You have long ago stopped questioning why a “tall” is actually a “small,” and fool yourself into believing that “venti” has been a part of your vocabulary since kindergarten. You don’t even bat an eye at the fancy breakfast sandwiches that are four times the cost of an Egg McMuffin simply because the bacon is “applewood smoked” and the cheese is “asiago.” Next thing you know, the barista is shuffling toward you with a vacant stare, bloody saliva dribbling down his chin, and you realize the entire staff is undead. You scramble for the exit, knocking down the sign that says Now Serving Oatmeal (since when?!) in your haste, finally reaching the safety of your automobile, back out of your spot…and run over the soccer mom sprawled in the parking lot whose throat is torn open, your tires spinning helplessly as a horde of caffeinated zombies descends upon you.
If you’d backed in, you would have seen her lying there and steered around her…
Scenario # 3: A Nuclear Bomb Explodes
You’ve had a hard day at work, your fingers sore from minimizing the computer screen every time a coworker walks by your cubicle, pretending to be working on the same exact chart on your Excel spreadsheet seven and a half hours later when really you were clicking the LIKE button on your friend-you-must-surely-know-from-somewhere-but-can’t-quite-place’s Facebook status update because you are too lazy to think of a witty comment. When quitting time rolls around, you hurry for the exit, nodding and smiling at the guy you think works in engineering (or maybe accounting?) but don’t know and can’t ask because you’ve seen him every day for five years now and only a moron would still be clueless about this guy’s job title, let alone his name. You push through the doors, settle into your car, and then there’s a blinding flash of light on the horizon, followed by a mushroom cloud. Oh, crap. You have a bomb shelter stocked with enough Campbell’s soup and Twinkies to last ten years, though, so it’s alright. You slip the gearshift into reverse, step on the gas pedal…and back into the UPS truck, whose slack-jawed, brown shorts-clad driver has slammed on the brakes and is staring through his doorless door at the approaching Armageddon. Your fender is dragging on the ground now, your tire is flat, and your car immobile.
If you’d backed in, you’d have been safely locked away in your fallout shelter long before the first radioactive shock wave turned your bones to dust.
See? With so much that can potentially go wrong, why put yourself at risk and not back into a parking space? Frankly, I’d rather not take that chance.
I’ll bet you’re not scoffing any longer…