Thursday, September 20, 2018

Miss Manners Guide to Parking

by Jamie Lake (writer), Los Feliz/Hollywood, October 20, 2007

Being an experienced driver in the formidable frenzy of Southern California, I consider myself an above par driver. I've always thought I had the right amount of caution and assertion to get where I need to go efficiently. There are many horrible drivers on the road, but I of course am not one of them, as probably 99 percent of drivers believe. With so much driving, parking, driving, parking that most Angelenos have to do just to get to work (let alone go somewhere on the weekend), other drivers seem to have found a way to comment on other's driving from time to time, and may not always share the same faith in our repertoire of tricks.

Everyone is familiar I'm sure with the friendly finger waver, the quick slammer of the brakes, the tail-riding fiend, and my personal favorite, the non-blinker using swerver who believes they'll get where they're going faster by changing lanes every other minute. However, I have recently become aware of a whole new lexicon of auto etiquette when it comes to parking.

Being polite, giving the right away, not pulling a hit and run; these were the dictates I’d stuck to when parking since I turned sixteen; what was there to fault? My conscientious parking involved always making sure the car next to me wasn't going to get hit, others would still be able to leave their spot, and I was taking up my space and my space only. Definitely behavior worthy of a pat on the back, and a demonstration of superior command of the wheel I was sure. Over the past few months this confidence though has been challenged. I've had a co-worker and strangers give their own two cents on my parking skills. Two thumbs up right? No, not so much to my chagrin.

The first lesson was given one day at work when a rather large coworker informed me he had to climb into his car from the opposite side due to my love of the right shoulder. I was surprised, but began to be very careful how I parked at work in order to not be called out again, or offend anyone else. I figured he had been over dramatic (as I had my superior auto skills), but would placate him in order to keep the peace.

The second time I offended someone with my right-sided ways, was in the parking lot of my doctor's office. I maneuvered next to a woman sitting in her van, who began to gesture and make angry faces in my direction. I got out, asked what the problem was, and was informed I didn't leave her any room to get out, and how rude it was etc., etc. I apologized, said I could re-park, but she just made a nasty remark, and I went to my appointment. When I returned to my car an hour later, the van was gone, but a note on an envelope was left on my windshield. The bitter driver apologized for her reaction, citing bad news she had received that day as the reason for her irrational hostility. I was taken back at how heartfelt the apology was, and felt ashamed for having thought anything negative about the whole incident. Didn't the note confirm it wasn't my parking at fault, but how much room others naively expect from compact spaces?

The next note was left a few weeks later when I ran into a local eatery to pick up dinner. I returned to find a hastily scribbled "nice parking, thanks for nothing." I was basically boxed into the space, and had definitely been rubbed up against by the car parked next to mine. I considered waiting, but just took a few photos on my phone of the license plate in case I found damage later. I was puzzled, but blew it off as the result of their own anger with their poor parking abilities and what a pity they weren’t blessed with my agility. I didn't give the note another thought, and continued on my way.

The latest incident occurred when I came back from a bookstore and found a note on my windshield with the message "nice parking you fucking asshole!" Really helpful and effective. Now if every other comment I'd received on my tendency to want to snuggle with the car to the right hadn't gotten the message across, this one was pretty crystal clear. Sure I'd immediately burst into tears, but when contemplation occurred, a light bulb was lit. Apparently I was the asshole causing others to have to rub up against their car to get inside. Who knew? Somehow everyone, except me, who had been too blind by arrogance, and was suddenly humbled.

Lesson learned? Maybe not everyone enjoys getting close with the neighboring vehicle, and playing red rover with the car door. I've always checked to see if I've left enough room on both sides; but my idea of enough, is not the same as the rest of L.A. I've learned, and nor am I to soon forget. If you've left one of these notes, have thought about leaving one of these notes, or have also been on the receiving end, maybe it's time to reconsider what is enough room, and how intentional the "lack of consideration" truly was. I'M SORRY L.A.! I pledge to go out of my way to ensure you'll never return to your car in frustration at seeing our autos getting cozy. Now if it's someone else's blunder, feel free to leave a note. Maybe it might actually make a difference in how they park next time around.

About the Writer

Jamie Lake is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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2 comments on Miss Manners Guide to Parking

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By Venditto on October 20, 2007 at 01:20 pm
wow, you really don't know how to park. But at least you learned a lesson. Self awareness is the first step. Nice piece.
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By icanluvulongtime on October 23, 2007 at 06:25 pm
I once wrote an entire piece on the driving styles across the country, for example when people in Oklahoma want to move into your lane they don't use their blinker. They drive up next to you, point to your lane and drive into it. In Detroit they do kind of the same thing, only instead of their finger they point a gun. Love your take on LA but you forgot my favorite. In LA people park on the side of the road and wait until you are almost beside them, and then throw open the drivers door. Charming.
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