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Say What - At 17, Focusing on Parallel Parking - (10.04.2006)-2006

Columns | Tue, 10/03/2006 - 11:00 pm | Updated 8 years 28 weeks ago | Read 1256 | Commented 0 | Emailed 0

By Rick Racela

I asked three 17-year-old male junior friends of mine what they wanted most right now. As in, if they could have any one thing, what would they choose?
Besides the joking answer, "a date with Jessica Simpson," I got the same, expected reply.
A car. Isn't that the aim of every high school junior? It's the year you can drive, the year you get your car, the year you spend all your saved-up money.
The other day, I was on my way home from work, in the front seat of my mom's car, babbling about work and this and that.
I was distracted, tired, and above all looking forward to kicking off my shoes and relaxing on the couch with an old copy of Little Women.
But when we pulled into the driveway, that changed, and really fast.
Parked in the middle of my long driveway was a brand-new, 2007 black Ford Focus, with a huge red bow perched jauntily on top.
My grandma stepped out from behind the car with a camera, and started snapping away. I was in total shock.
Apparently, some of my family got together and, after searching for a while, they came across this little two-door Ford with a hatchback, a good safety rating, and excellent gas mileage. They decided to go for it.
I had no idea this plan was in the works. I was excited about picking out a car, but this topped everything.
This car was perfect: good with gas, small, comfortable, and above all, safe.
It was every little thing I wanted in a car, and it made it even better to know that my family had chosen it for me.
I, of course, put in money towards the car and I'm paying for my insurance, but I find every penny to be well worth the trouble.
My uncle even had it personalized for me, so when you walk past it, you'll definitely know it's my car.
It is rather frustrating to walk home from the bus stop in the afternoon, past my car, and to jingle the keys in my hand without actually being able to hop in and drive it, without a licensed driver.
My 17th birthday and my driving test are both in one week. Just last week, my father took me to the airport to teach me how to parallel park.
We spent over an hour going through the motions and practicing.
Almost every time, I ended up over the curb, too far away from the curb, or just generally crooked in the spot.
I seem to have the biggest problem with perception. I keep thinking I'm super close to the curb when actually I'm two and a half feet away.
And I also let up on the brake too soon, and before I know it, I'm five feet into the grass and a long way away from a passing driving test grade.
The very last time, before we left, I did manage to do a perfect park job. Let's just hope that holds out until next week, huh?
Getting a car is a big step up in responsibility and I've got to say it makes me nervous to have that kind of power in my hands.
But it's nice to know my family trusts me enough to offer me that responsibility, and next week is the true test. We'll see how that turns out.

Davis, 17, of Green Creek, is a junior at Middle Township High School.

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