Reverse parking is a very specific type of public humiliation. Even for those who can do it well.
As human beings, few of us can resist the innate urge to watch as one of our own attempts to slot a car (often an SUV that is disproportionately large for its surrounds) into a tight space on a congested main road.
We gawk, whisper too-harsh judgements to our friends, occasionally laugh and sometimes leer so hard that the driver under scrutiny cracks and aborts the mission, slinking off to find a side-street spot without as many eyeballs.
Whether or not you're a "good parker" can best be summarised by a memorable (slightly edited) quote from William Shakespeare:
"Some are born great [parkers], some achieve [parking] greatness, and some have [parking] greatness thrust upon them."
Me? I was extremely lucky that my first driving test required me to do a three-point turn instead of a reverse park, otherwise I almost certainly wouldn't have passed with flying colours (sorry, had to squeeze in a humble-brag where I could).
Parking has never been my strong suit and, as is typical, most of my best performances take place when there's no one around to witness them.
It took me years to work up the confidence to park on a main road - something I'm still not thrilled about doing. Particularly when I'm driving anything bigger than a station wagon and have an audience of latte-sippers nearby.
Pictured: a nervous parker's nightmare scenario.
Turns out I'm not the only one with a fear of judgement. A female family member once recounted to me how she was struggling to park her car on a cramped Melbourne street when she looked up to see a guy filming her.
While, by her own admission, she's "the worst parker" (she's not), she was understandably peeved and confronted the amateur cameraman, who promptly muttered something incomprehensible and escaped into the comfort of his own home.
Meanwhile, my godmother still fondly recalls the time she nailed a parallel park in a Honda Odyssey while across the road from a crowded pub. She exited the vehicle to cheers and toasts from a row of blokes.
Conversely, when she later slotted it into another tight spot in Sydney's Kirribilli, a woman who had watched the whole thing approached her and exclaimed: "Oh, you did that so well - I thought you were a man!"
No points for the sisterhood there.
While parking that is unsafe, unfair or completely illegal is fair play for criticism, merely imperfect parking, I feel, is often unfairly maligned.
Especially thanks to the brutality of social media, where happy snappers have no qualms capturing bad performances (often without even blurring their plates) and publicly shaming them online.
Additionally, parking lots are one place where the handwritten note is yet to fall out of favour. Some motorists have no qualms leaving personal letters with a hostility better befitting a particularly spicy YouTube comments section.
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So what to do? My advice is to start by remembering that for many, driving can feel like more of a stressful necessity than a joyous jaunt.
What may come easily to some can feel like a struggle for others and the least helpful thing you can do when someone requires 15 attempts to get into a 45-degree angle spot is poke fun at them.
Instead, I advise being the person who helps them out - let them know you'll tell them when they've run out of space at the rear and give them the thumbs up when they're finally in position. Maybe next time their driving anxiety won't be as crippling and they'll slot it in one go.
And for the love of all things holy, don't film or photograph them. Even if you know it will make for a killer tweet.