I’ve seen some pretty stupid behavior from drivers. Much of that stupid occurs in parking lots. Here’s a tip: Slow. The. Fuck. Down. There’s a reason it’s called a parking lot and not, for instance, the Autobahn. Once you’re in it, the idea is to park your car someplace near where you’re going so you can then exit the vehicle and walk to that place. It’s during this walking phase where you might begin to understand the importance of operating the vehicle at a reasonable (read: slow) speed for the venue. Or maybe you like the thrill of dodging assholes who like to drive through the parking lot as if they’re on the freeway. I suppose that does make a trip to the grocery store a bit more challenging, as if you’ve returned to a wilder time when just gathering food was a life-threatening adventure.
Me? I’d just as soon you paid attention to your surroundings and understood that there are people walking here. At least pretend like you care about other people’s lives. You sure as shit have a different attitude once you park and have to guide your children the 100 feet from the car to the store without getting run over by the other assholes who drive just like you. But tucked safely inside your urban spaceship with your phone in one hand and the controls in the other, your brain completely disengaged from both your surroundings and the lessons your offspring are learning from you, none of that even enters the equation.
But that’s not actually the story I want to tell today.
The other day as I arrived to work, nearly late due to some unforeseen traffic snarls on the freeway, I came across this odd little display of selfishness. The donation drop for the thrift store near my coffee shop is next to where I park. There are several parking spaces right in front of the donation drop spot; you can pull up and the attendant comes out to help you unload. This is what most people do. Of course, most people are not Ms. Lexus. Ms Lexus had pulled up and parked in the lane meant for driving to an available parking space. Yes. She had parked her SUV in the lane, effectively blocking the two cars parked appropriately in front of the donation drop in addition to three cars parked in the regular spots. Where I intended to park. By the time I arrived, Mrs. Minivan was halfway out of her spot but blocked by Ms. Lexus. I stopped a reasonable distance back so Mrs. Minivan could finish pulling out. Then I noticed Ms. Lexus wasn’t actually in her car. I also noted at this time that two cars had arrived behind me. As I surveyed this scene, looking for Ms. Lexus, I watched as Mrs. Minivan opened her door and leaned out to take a peek. She honked her horn. She looked perturbed. She honked again. She leaned back in and shut the door. She pulled forward a bit and then backed up a bit, still unable to avoid Ms. Lexus’ expensive and shiny car. She stopped and exited her vehicle just about the time the Ms. Lexus emerged from the donation center. They looked at one another and appeared to exchange some words, after which Mrs. Minivan got back into her car.
At this point I assumed we were done waiting and it was only a matter of seconds before we’d be on our way. I was only about a minute from being on time so I had nothing to worry about. Right?
So I watch, stunned, as Ms. Lexus looks around. She looks at Mrs. Minivan, halfway into the lane and ready to go now, please! She looks at me, and at the three cars now behind me. She turns and slowly walks back inside the donation center.
Mrs. Minivan yet again gets out of her car and starts shouting at the empty space where Ms. Lexus had been. A full minute goes by. Ms. Lexus finally re-emerges from the building. She makes a gesture at Mrs. Minivan and saunters–yes! she sauntered!–back to her car. Twenty feet, maybe twenty-five. Almost a minute to traverse this vast expanse of parking lot to get to her car. She stops to give a Mrs. Minivan a meaningful look before slowly walking to the driver’s side door. She pauses to look back once more before opening the door and climbing inside.
And then she just sits there. For nearly another minute. At this point, I’m more than stunned. I’m late for work. I beep my horn, just in case she doesn’t realize there are more people involved here than just the old woman who is apparently the Hatfield to her McCoy. She continues to sit there. Mrs. Minivan gets out of her car one more time and slaps Mr. Lexus’ tail light just as a person might slap the hindquarters of a horse to get it moving.
Strangely enough, it worked.
As Mrs. Minivan pulled out of her space I watched Ms. Lexus race out of the parking lot, suddenly in a hurry.