Emma June Grosskopf column

I was running a little late for graduation on Saturday, and I’d like to blame it on the fact that I didn’t have any power in Romney when I woke up shortly before 8.

But that would be a lie.

In fact, I was running late because that’s what I do. It’s who I am. I’ve stopped trying to change it, because my lack of punctuality is as much a part of me as my lack of toenails on my pinky toes or my constant, occasionally urgent need to quote The Sound of Music for no reason.

I digress.

Anyway, as I was hustling up to Sunrise Summit later Saturday morning, I was feeling anxious. Where would I park for graduation? Was I going to have to park in the grass? What if there aren’t any spots left?

(Now, the logical Emma knows that for functions like graduation, schools do tend to have a plan for this sort of thing, but the neurotic Emma sometimes forgets things like that.)

I was directed up the hill behind the school, where I sat in a slow-but-moving line of cars. They were being pointed to their spots, one by one.

No, I thought. Please no. Don’t make me have to back in. Please, not in front of all of these people.

“These people” being the sundress, cargo-short-clad parents and siblings of the graduates, and not really people I’d particularly like to be watching as I struggle to back my car (poorly) into a perfectly reasonably sized spot.

Thankfully, Sheriff Sions pointed to a spot where I could pull in, and he even ribbed me a little about my anxiety when I stepped out of the vehicle.

“Were you nervous I was going to make you back in?” He asked.

More than you know, Sheriff. More than you know.

I also sent up a silent prayer in gratitude that I didn’t have to parallel park. At my ripe age of 25, I’ve already experienced so much embarrassment, and adding trying to parallel park with an audience would have humbled me beyond recognition.

I remember when I was learning how to drive, my driver’s ed teacher was named Mr. Yates. He gave me some really great advice about how to properly parallel park:

“Well, first you drive along, and you find an open place to park,” he said. “You slow down a little bit and drive just past the spot…and then you keep on driving until you find someplace else to park so you don’t have to parallel park.”

No kidding, Mr. Yates.

When I was doing my driving school in order to get my license (I’m not sure how you guys do it here. I haven’t seen many cars around with the “Student Driver” sign on top of it), I had to drive with an audience.

My driving days overlapped with this quiet, pasty boy named Konstantine. He never said much (blessedly, because I had to focus on the driving) but it was a comfort that he was a worse driver than me.

And clearly, neither of us had any solid parallel parking foundation.

My instructor (thankfully not Mr. Yates, but a teacher from a different school who was glued to her phone the ENTIRE TIME I was driving – even on the interstate) made me drive around just outside of downtown Fredericksburg to practice parallel parking. I observed that the neighborhood was the same one as the church my grandparents went to. I remember thinking, “Lord, help me.”

I parked. Badly. I guess that didn’t matter; I passed and got my license.

And so here I am, in Hampshire County, West Virginia, hoping and praying that I never have to park on the street or with an audience.

Thankfully, the Review office has a parking lot out back. Whew.

(1) comment


Hmmm interesting your less than ideal experiences with drivers' ed teachers Emma. Let me tell you mine (no names though). At the HS I attended we had two male instructors . The program was some in class, some in the driving simulator(fun!) in a trailer, and some on the road in actual vehicles. One teacher a man in his 40s was (looking back) a seemingly functioning alcoholic who was OK most the time, but sometimes not so good being hung over and all. The other in his late 20s also taught the continuing ed motorcycle class and came to school on his own motorcyle and was not shy about giving senior girls rides homes (and rumor had it sometimes more than that was going on, things were different in the late 1970s). So anyway those are my memories, not so good either.

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