Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Parking lot rage: The evil fraternal twin of road rage

Pop quiz!

When entering a rather full parking lot, you should
(a) drive slowly around the parking lot until you find an available space.
(b) sit in the middle of the aisle, in the most inconvenient fashion possible, and be a spot vulture until someone parked in your general vicinity exits the store, gets in the car, and vacates the space.
(c) say "the hell with it" and look for street parking.
(d) say "the hell with it" and go to another store.

If you answered (a), (c), or (d), you are a person after my own heart. If you answered (b), you probably shop at the Berkeley Bowl.

In fact, if you answered (b), chances are pretty good that you drove your hybrid to the Berkeley Bowl this past Sunday afternoon--and that you attempted to get in a tiff with me over a parking space.

Mind you, I almost never drive to the Berkeley Bowl--I hardly ever go to the Berkeley Bowl, on account of the teeming obnoxiousness--and this past Sunday I wasn't driving, either. I was, however, in someone else's car.

You might take a moment now to note that the Berkeley Bowl advises its customers to "be patient and always drive carefully." Alas, you weren't thinking about politeness on Sunday, and you were massively ill-prepared for my interpersonal jujitsu...

You were sitting in the middle of the aisle in your hybrid, which while motionless is silent like the (possibly also motionless) ninja. No one was doing anything to the cars around you, and you weren't doing anything to your car either, namely operating its turn signal. You were within a few feet of the entrance to the store, so perhaps you were waiting for your shopping companion. So we passed you. And we went not even fifteen feet before a spot opened up right in front of us. And we took it.

You began yelling at us. At the same moment, another spot opened up, and you took it. You strode over to us and continued yelling. "THAT'S REAL CLASSY," you barked. "YOU DON'T JUST PASS SOMEONE AND THEN TAKE A PARKING SPOT."

My companion attempted to ignore you, but not I. I smiled sweetly up at you. "I'm sorry, sir," I replied calmly, "but we can't read your mind in the parking lot."

You (a good head taller and thirty years older than I) grew red in the face. "YOU CAN READ EVERYONE'S MIND IN THIS PARKING LOT!" you blustered.

"I'm sorry, sir," I said, still sweet as agave nectar, "there isn't a single person in this world whose mind I can read. But I'm glad you found a parking spot. Have a nice day!"

You continued to bluster a little more. "BUT YOU---YOU DON'T JUST DO THAT!" you insisted.

"I really am glad you found a parking spot. Have a nice day!" I repeated, still smiling. Unable to think of a better retort, you stormed off into the store.

Had you stayed outside a little longer, you would have heard a woman about your age say, "Jeez! It's just a parking spot! Give it up!" as she pulled the bags from her cart. You would have seen me shrug my shoulders. And you would have heard her add, "The rest of that guy's life must be really awful, if he's getting that worked up over a parking spot."

I hope, for your sake, that you were just having a bad day. But whether or not this was an isolated incident, I encourage you please to remember two things:
1) It's bad form to try to intimidate a young lady.
2) No one likes a spot vulture.

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