At anytime while living in the Republic of the Philippines, I will guarantee you that just the simple act of placing your car into reverse will cause something to appear behind you right out of thin air. This fact I’ll promise you! The saga now begins…
The year was 1963, I was 16 years old and my Father took me to the Registry of Motor Vehicles in Boston the capital of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to take my driver’s license exam. Having passed the written exam, I stood outside by the door waiting for the scary dude with the clip board to take me on my road test.
Fifty one years ago this coming July, I had to navigate my way into and out of a Round-About (Rotary or traffic Circle) I still remember that the autos in the Round-About had the right of way. I also had to turn the car around using he 3 point turn, and the one maneuver that most people failed was parallel parking on a busy Boston street. This must be accomplished in only two movements of the steering wheel while reversing into the parking space.
Due to the extensive training my father gave me, I passed with flying colors the first time out. Next I got a job on Bluehill Avenue working for a Jewish guy driving a delivery van, moving wholesale kosher grocery deliveries all over the city. Boston being the oldest city in the US built during the 15 and 1600’s has very narrow one-way streets, which you will always find yourself at the wrong end of and never in the direction you need to be. Time always being a factor it would take too long to drive around the city to find the entrance to that street, so I learned to reverse down them with the front bumper of the 1953 Chevy delivery truck always pointing in the proper direction to cause a frustration on the face of Boston’s Finest waiting to ticket me.
So fifty years have passed and I still retain the ability to back up in a straight line for miles, which by the way came in very handy when driving on very narrow country lanes in England, Ireland and Scotland plus in the interior roads in Puerto Rico and of course here in the Philippines.
Then I buy a new car and technology rears its ugly head. My friend Tommy has two new Chevies’ a Pick-up and an SUV, both a far cry from Abe’s old panel truck I used to drive. Mayang took a ride with Tommy’s wife and discovered that the Chevy had four sensors on the rear bumper that talked to the driver while backing up, yes a female voice telling you how to drive, kinda like an extra wife in the car. But if that was not enough, a camera also mounted on the same bumper will display a picture of all that is behind you with a gauge on the screen to show you where you are relative to the Earth’s movement. My fifty one years of acquired knowledge and skill, are now tossed aside by new fangled high tech stuff.
Oh come on you know Mayang wanted this for her Mitsubishi G4 GLX. Was there even a doubt about that? Only because her friend has it in both her cars. Either lady will ever put a car into reverse unless it is an emergency or there is no other way to extradite them self from a bad parking situation. But have the camera unit she must have!
In the mall there is a store called Concord, which sells all things “CAR” up to and including back-up sensor systems and more. Mayang was canvassing all the items that were available to her, and leaning towards the talking sensor that also has a camera included but using my cagy brain, which most often works against me; I passed on the talking sensor and went straight for the camera unit explaining that I am hard of hearing caused by all those years riding ships.
Here was my logic, the camera cost more than the talking unit and the one that included both was off the charts. So the camera should please the lady more, second I added the caveat that if the camera was not good enough we would return and add the talking unit later. This was pleasing to her ears, and I received the very important nod of approval!
The young electronic wizard Juhn was tasked with the instillation of this gadget involving miles of wires, a monitor a control unit and the all important camera. The insulation is free, and remembering the Navy Barber’s pearls of wisdom; “Shipmate, would you like a good haircut, or the free one?”
I looked at Juhn and said there are two ways this can work out for you, we can drive to a nice cool shady area of the base or you can work in the boiling sun here in the mall parking lot? If you install this unit properly hiding all the wires and ending up with no extra parts, cause no damage to my car, you will also be awarded monetarily up and beyond what your boss is paying you. Juhn, do we have a deal? Yes Kuya!!!
True to his word this young wizard snapped off interior panels and using existing wire tracks properly installing each part without the first use of black electoral tape. His work was on par with any factory installation that I’ve ever seen, So sitting under a shade tree close to the water next door was a Casino, I walked over to purchase two small bottles of cold water from the restaurant, at PNP 55.00 each, I held them up to the light and the waitress asked if the water was dirty, I explained that at that price I was looking for the gold flakes that should be there.
Juhn is done, we sit under the tree and kill time until it’s his lunch time and then head back to the mall. I present him with his promised reward, he smiled and said: “Kuya that is two days pay.” Juhn you preformed as I requested and you earned it as far as I’m concerned, and I thank you.
Mayang is enthralled with her new camera backing up device; it’s been two weeks and no mention of the talking back-up device so far, now for the bitter truth, remember that 51 years of experience, the guy that can back up from Bataan to Manila? He doesn’t live here anymore. Damn if I don’t love that camera now and I’m not ashamed to admit it. But I do wonder if the driving test guy in Boston would have allowed me to use it back then?
Paul’s Driving Tip
The “S” Method for parking (No Camera Involved)
Turn on your signal (Signals are not required in the RP) and pull up three feet away from the car you want to park behind. Make sure to align your back tires with the other car’s back bumper. Get out of your car and ask the Jeepney who pulled in behind you to please move Put your car into reverse and turn your wheels all the way to the right.
• Very slowly back up until you are at a 45-degree angle, then stop. Now ask the Trike Driver who pulled into the space to move.
• Turn the wheels all the way to the left.
• Back up very slowly until you are parallel with the curb.
• If done correctly, you should be less then twelve inches or at least 5 feet from the curb. Practice will improve your judgment. Or better yet, in the Philippines pay the kid the twp Pesos to help you park, he needs the money.
• Check your Smart Phone for a “Parking APP”. Happy motoring!