Making a U-turn these days requires a little planning on my part. The left arm does most of the heavy lifting, the right arm (as I've said before) is more of a placeholder.
Last night, Cecilia and I were leaving a restaurant in Central Park (which is not a park and is central to nothing) and, since Central Park is so poorly designed, I found myself having to make a U-turn in order to go home. There was quite a bit of oncoming traffic so I began my preparation: left hand/arm pulled down on the steering wheel while the right hand kept it in place. The car ahead of me went through at the first opportunity and I inched a little further ahead, turning the wheel just a little bit more. Finally I spotted an opening and took my foot off the clutch only to feel the front left tire begin to go over the curb of the median -- I had misjudged its location and had overprepared for the turn. For a brief moment I considered just driving over the curb but, not knowing how this might impact the undercarriage and realizing this would set a bad example for the new driver in the car with me, I elected to stay put. I corrected my positioning and waited for the next break. Fortunately my second attempt was successful.
This episode is in direct contrast to the U-turn I negotiated on October 7, when Adam, Ricardo, and I went to see David Sedaris. I had arrived in DC too early so I decided to park near the theater and bide my time catching up on e-mail. The spot I had chosen was easy (too easy, as it turned out) to find and I congratulated myself on being so lucky. As you can guess, I was in a no-rush-hour parking zone and it was, in fact, rush hour. The meter maid did not give me a ticket but told me I had to move, and advised that the spaces on the opposite side of the street were not rush-hour spots. The trouble was there were no spaces. As I made my way up the next block a car vacated a space on the non-rush-hour side. I knew if I circled the block this space would be gone so I, crazy fool that I am, made a snap decision and started a U-turn in the middle of the street, cars parked on either side, GW students everywhere. Remember my limitations -- this was not a smooth maneuver, I call it my 18-point U-turn. It was ugly and my arms worked hard, but I got the space. I didn't take out any students and I probably pissed off only a dozen or so drivers. The ultimate reward came after the performance when I walked the half block to my car and was already pointed in the proper direction for home.
For what it's worth, I try to avoid U-turns whenever possible. Driving, anyway.
7 hours ago