Parking preferences can speak volumes

By Grant McGee: Local columnist

I’m halfway through the book “Long Way Round.”

It’s about actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s eastward motorcycle journey from London to New York. The two are reminiscing about training for the trip through places where they might be looking down the barrels of several AK-47 machine guns. They described their trainer as a man who had “friends and colleagues who backed their cars into parking spaces for quick getaways.”

I had a chuckle at this line because it made me wonder if there’s a “Book of Rules and Sayings of Life” and I didn’t get a copy.

I used to back into parking spaces. I started this when I first learned to drive. I believed it made pulling out easier. It turns out this violates one of those unwritten rules.

One evening my father asked why his car was parked facing the street. I explained my theory, expecting him to open his eyes wide and exclaim, “Why didn’t I think of that!” After all I was a teenager and knew everything.

“You don’t park the car facing the street because if a rock flies off the road or someone throws something the windshield is more expensive to replace than the rear window,” said my father.

Once I was out on my own I resumed backing into parking spaces. Then I heard a totally different reason why a backed-in car raises eyebrows. I hadn’t been in Albuquerque long when one of my new friends gave an odd look over how I parked.

“Only cops and criminals park cars facing out. Which one are you?” he said.

“It’s easier to pull out,” I said.

“Yeah, sure,” said another friend. “It’s also easier to hide your license plate.”

A short while later I stopped backing into parking spaces. I didn’t know such a simple thing could make someone look odd.

It reminds me of sayings about judging people by the shoes they wear, the kind of watch on their wrist or the car they drive. As for shoes, I’d wear flip-flops all the time if I could get away with it. As for watches, I don’t wear one. And when it comes to cars, I spend most of my time on a bicycle. Long ago, though, my car became an issue with a boss I had.

I was a traveling salesman. One day my supervisor met with me. On the agenda: my old clunker.

“You need a nicer car,” he said. “More people will buy from you if you look successful.”

“But it’s paid for,” I said. “I have no payments.”

“Doesn’t matter,” he said. “You don’t look successful.”

“I would think people would appreciate someone who manages their money well and owns a car that’s paid for.”

Not long after that I took my old paid-for clunker car and went to work for someone else.

I don’t know who came up with these rules and sayings. I guess they’re just from society in general. They came to me by way of my mom and dad. My old pal Catfish told me a few, my cousin Barb helped me and The Lady of the House filled in a few pages.

These are just a few examples of things that must be in “The Book of Rules and Sayings of Life.” If you have a spare copy, could you pass it on to me?

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: