A Christmas Story: Parking Lot Etiquette

Good God I can’t believe it’s nearly Christmas! Only 14 shopping days remain. If you’ve finished all  your shopping already, well kudos to you, if you’re like the rest of us who tend to procrastinate a bit and still need to get out there and get it done, well you’d best get started and good luck to you!  You’ll need it!

You’ll be venturing into dangerous waters, a sea of madness filled with thousands upon thousands of last minute holiday shoppers like yourselves searching for a bargain. Or perhaps you’re like me and by this point in time it’s not about finding a bargain or saving money, it’s just about getting it done. Yes, it’s the final journey into shopping hell,  the last chance to buy real gifts before you just say “screw it” and resort to restaurant gift cards, gas cards, lotto tickets, scratch offs  or perhaps even no gift at all.

So as you make begin making your rounds to the local malls and discount stores, a word of advise: “be careful, there are a lot of crazy people out there!” And the craziness begins long before you set foot in the stores, it begins on the highways and parking lots outside those malls and stores.  Believe me I know.

What follows is “Parking Lot Etiquette” a short account of a Christmas shopping experience  I had two years ago. It is the very first post I wrote for my blog based on a personal experience and the second article I posted. In fact it was in the hours after this incident that the idea for my blog was born. I hope you enjoy it.

Merry Christmas!                                                                                                                                                                    _________________________________________________________

In our society we are taught from an early age that laws must be obeyed and rules must be followed. Failure to do so results in consequences befitting the infraction. What then of the unwritten rules of etiquette, the code of polite behavior. What happens when someone breaks these rules? What is the consequence of their actions? This question leads me to the story I’m about to share with you.

This past weekend my wife and I decided to do some Christmas shopping at Victoria Gardens. When we arrived we found the parking lots jammed. It seemed that most Southern Californians had the same shopping idea. We drove around and round the parking lot for quite sometime looking for a parking place. “It’s all in the timing,” I kept telling myself.

Then suddenly to my left I spied a car (#1) that was about to leave so I stopped and waited for the car to pull out. In front of me several cars were slowly moving down the row searching for spots. The first few drove past me knowing that I was waiting for a spot but the third car (#2) stopped short, just as the woman began to back up. As luck would have it car (#1) backed out to her right so that she would be driving away in my direction. By doing so she not only blocked me from turning in quickly but gave the driver of the other car ample opportunity to steal the spot. All the while my wife was saying “she going to take the spot, she’s going to take it.”

Undaunted by my wife’s concern I waited for the woman to pull away, certain that the other driver wouldn’t dare break the rules of parking lot etiquette and steal the spot, after all, she had seen me sitting here waiting from at least a dozen cars away. In fact when she turned down the row I was already stopped and waiting.  She wouldn’t be that thoughtless, would she? Well when car #1 finally finished backing up and pulled away I discovered the woman driving car #2 was indeed stealing the spot from me. She was nearly two-thirds of the way in, but pulling in at a ridiculous angle just to grab the spot first. I couldn’t believe it!  Had she no scruples!  How dare she!

I am not a vindictive man at least I never thought I was. Without thinking I pulled across the row right behind her and nudged my vehicle right up behind hers so that she couldn’t straighten out her horrible rush, park job. I opened my window and called out to her,“Excuse me lady, this is my parking spot I’m sure you saw me waiting for it.”             No response. “Excuse me!” I called again.   She finally turned around. “I had my directional on,” she said sleepily, as if turning her directional on half a block away made what she’d done okay.  “Ah I really don’t care,” I answered, “I was sitting here waiting before you even turned down this row.” “I had my directional on,” she said again.                                                                   By this point I was getting a little perturbed. Just who did this woman think she was.           “Listen lady I want you to move your car out of my spot now!” “I’m going to call the police,” she replied. “By all means call them,” I responded. “I’d love to hear what they have to say.”  She just sat there.

Funny but during the entire altercation which probably lasted no more than a minute or two, not one horn sounded, even though I was blocking traffic. It seemed like the other drivers knew that the parking lot rules of etiquette had been violated and I was not letting it go unnoticed. I was dealing with it. I sat there for a few more moments looking around at the traffic jam I was causing. At that point I knew I wasn’t going to win this battle, but I was determined that if I couldn’t have the parking spot neither could she.                                                                       I leaned out the window and in my best bad ass voice said to her,  “Okay lady, I’ll tell you what, I’m going to drive away from here right now but I’m going to come back by here in a few minutes and if your car is still parked here I’m gonna fuck it up, but don’t worry I”ll have my directional on.”  Yeah, that’s what I said. I stared at her for a long moment, grinned menacingly and drove away.

Yes, I know I crossed the line. Up until that final statement I had managed to keep it civil, calling her ‘lady’ instead of what I really wanted to call her, and though I had no intentions of carrying out my threat, I suppose I shouldn’t have made it, but I was frustrated by her lack of respect for the parking lot rules of etiquette and I was simply standing up for myself and the countless others who simply shake their heads and drive on when this happens to them. Besides, when all was said and done I was able to leave Victoria Gardens with at least a sense of satisfaction, for when I drove by the parking spot a few minutes later her car was no longer there. She had moved.

Imagine that…


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