Perhaps it’s happened to you. You’re in your car seeking an on-street parking space. You spy one at the curb, the sidewalk filled with a small clutch of people waiting to buy cupcakes, or get into the theatre, or perhaps just nursing their caffeine fix. You sidle up and execute your best parallel parking maneuver. And suddenly – pow! It’s crunch time.
It may have been an empty Odwalla bottle. It might be a drift of dried twigs. On really unlucky occasions it could be an empty beer bottle. Whichever, it’s found its way into the gutter, and your tires have squeezed it into a small space, with explosive results.
And now you’re the object of everyone’s attention on the walk, all wearing irritated expressions at best summed up as “Did you do that just to draw attention to yourself?” To which you can only glare back as if to say, “Which one of you left the IED in the gutter?” But in San Francisco, no one would ever admit to tossing refuse in the street, so you will never have the satisfaction of an answer to that question. It’s one of the unwritten rules of driving and parking, right between avoiding curbside puddles on rainy days and remembering that when parking your SUV with the rear tire rack, that it marks the end of your car and not your bumper.