Helping a stranger parallel park when you can barely park yourself never felt so good.
“Are you in a hurry? Do you have time to help me?”
That face. Of course I stopped.
“Can you help me parallel park?”
My mind immediately flashed to that time in Key West when I tried to parallel park a van and had my friends in stitches. To be fair, they got out and moved a scooter that was keeping me from the perfect 600-point turn. Literally no other human has had a worse parking job ever. I still crack up. I remember it like a milestone – the day The Three Stooges had nothing on Maria’s parking.
But back to the exasperated stranger who was about to burst in tears. She’d be late for her new job.
After three attempts, she asked me to park it for her. Sigh.
“But sit on the passenger side, so you can learn,” I said. “Girlfriend, you just gotta learn.”
This particular spot was on a curved road with plenty of space between cars. Hey, I managed to park without bumping into the swail.
As we walked toward our respective destinations, I learned that she had just graduated from culinary school in New York City, where she didn’t need a car. I told her that I had worked as a private chef without formal training.
“Try it,” I said. “The restaurant business is tough for women.”
As we parted ways, she gave me a hug. “You’re the best person ever.”
I think about how I almost didn’t go out yesterday, how I felt post-vacation blues, how the world seems hopeless, how people fight about faith and politics to the point where we are scrubbed clean of compassion and become abrasive.
And then this young woman showed up yesterday to remind me of the rawness of being humble and the joy of being helpful.
“We admitted we were powerless against parallel parking,” I thought and giggled some more.
Originally published on Facebook, August 2022