Saturday, January 28, 2006

Parking 101

The survivalist's attitude is to find joy wherever one can find it and run with it. What brings me the greatest joy in Morocco thusfar is watching parking attendants & their charges (i.e., Moroccans parking their cars) negotiate the curbs of this country. In a land of atrocious drivers, the epithet is further deservedly driven home by the fact that the art of parking has completely alluded them. I can only surmise that they were never formally taught it. Perhaps the lesson (if any) went something like this,

"Okay, when you want to park your car, look for a spot with a parking attendant. He wears a blue coat and hangs about on sidewalks playing dice with concierges and other attendants when not busy. Make your intention clear by stopping in mid-traffic and blasting your horn. He'll begin to gesticulate and wave his arms in irrational patterns in attempt to steer you into the space. Keep your eyes on the attendant if he is in front of you, your eyes open if he is out of sight; never waste your time on rearview or sideview mirrors. Chances are the latter have already been peeled off by another motorist. Don't worry if the space isn't big enough. Don't worry if you hit either car on either side of you as you ease into the spot. That's why Allah created bumpers. Don't worry if you scrape your axil or park half on the sidewalk; equally, it's fine if you park three feet away from the curb so the driver's door is halfway into a lane of traffic - the important thing is that your're almost done. Now you're in - Allah be praised! Don't forget to give the attendant a couple of dirhams for this stellar service. For a few extra dirhams, he will wash your vehicle."

This parking lesson has been unofficially taught to men and women, young and old alike. It is equally true for pulling into and backing out of a spot. No one but the foolhardy dares to parallel park. Any effort in parallel parking compells me to stop and watch, savouring every delicious moment. Often the problems associated with parking are exacerbated that the driver (in this case female) cannot see because when she turns her head she cannot see through the grill of her burka. Burkas are an unwise choice for drivers in Morocco.

Should I be ashamed that I find joy in watching a frantic parking attendant desperately try to assist a muddled driver trying to drive forwards out from a parking spot, on a deserted one way street, and that it took about 5 minutes to execute and a great deal of wheel turning? Nope. It was great fun.

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