Back from St. Louis last week, I settled back into the landscape of home sweet home. Catching up on chores on a rainy Friday was a must but it didn’t mean I needed to get wet. I pulled up at the top of a row of parked cars while my daughter went into the bank. Where I am parked looks like it should be a space but for some reason it’s not. Everyone likes to make it a space anyway. It’s a common practice and I’m just going to be sitting there in my car for a few minutes. What could happen?
The problem is that a lot can happen in a few minutes. For instance, a crazy old guy in a van with a handicapped tag can start to back towards your car like you and your car are not there. When you honk, he can pull up a little bit like maybe he heard you or saw the handicapped spot sitting empty right in front of him. That’s not what’s he has in mind however.
Not at all.
Crazy old guy starts backing up again instead. Uh oh.
I am honking. He is backing up. I keep honking. It's getting good now. A real battle of wills or a real example of stubborn stupidity. It's hard to tell in the moment. Now the other people sitting in their cars while they wait for their companions to run into the drug store or bank – like the group of teenagers sitting in the fire lane – are getting interested. And why shouldn’t they be? It's the best show in the parking lot.
The big van keeps rolling back. I know he sees me. I know he must see his car can’t fit in the fake parking space too. Consequently, I stay there like a sitting duck until I start to realize that this guy is going to keep backing up until he actually hits my car.
And then he hits my car.
I am laying on the horn but it's a little too little too late. I do kick it into reverse at this point because I am not sure if Mr. Crazy Van is going to stop or just keep on going. Aahh. There you go. He edges in the rest of the way, stops his car, and gets out casual as you please. Life is good when you are Mr. Crazy Van.
I get out of my car too. I am not so foot loose and fancy free.
Hey – I say – you hit my car.
He is wearing Bermuda shorts with the requisite socks. His outfit reflects his carefree attitude towards driving and parking. He says – I know.
I said – You hit my car. You can’t just back up into people’s cars.
He said – You shouldn’t be parked there anyway.
A strange statement considering that he was parking there now as well. In fact, he was now parked there so completely that the rear end of my car was sticking halfway out of the space that I shouldn’t be parking in. Somehow, however, it was all okay for him. Explain the logic there? I can't. I didn't try. I took the forthright approach in stated my perception of the situation.
I said – That’s crazy talk. Backing into someone’s car because you want the parking space – that’s crazy stuff.
Mr. Bermuda Shorts with an Attitude walked into the bank as if he had just gotten free valet parking. He didn't care that I thought he was crazy. He got his parking space. I looked over at the empty handicap parking space. What just happened here?
The kids in the fire lane got it right. Me, trying to pull over and not sit in the fire lane – I got it wrong. I got into my car and finished backing out of the space that is not a space. I drive around the parking lot. I pull up and wait in the fire lane like everyone else.
My daughter came out of the bank. The rain stopped. We stopped at McDonalds. The french fries helped.
I drove home a little more wary of the suburban parking lot and old guys wearing bermuda shorts and white socks.