21 October 2009
Question O' The Day
(Photograph copyright 2009, all rights reserved)
People don't know how to park their cars. Has anyone ever noticed that? I'm not talking about parallel parking on the street. Chicago is full of on-street parking, and I have to admire people who can just whistle their way into a parking spot roughly the size of a Kleenex box, especially when they're driving full-sized vans and big sedans. Disclosure: I can't parallel park worth a damn. It must be because I'm a Westerner and there are parking lots in the West because there's just more room. I don't know. I've never learned how to parallel park correctly and I live in fear that I'll have to take a road test one day for a license renewal.
No, I'm talking about parking lots. I've seen so many fender benders and near misses in parking lots (and garages) that I've developed my own set of rules for them. You may call me paranoid, but that's just the way it is. Whenever I see a new-ish car covered in dents, I know that person has to park in a lot at work and they've given up. Rules:
1. If you see a new-ish Cadillac that is covered in dings and scratches, park FAR away from it. It has become de rigeur for grandmas who really shouldn't be driving at all to buy these things (it's the old "surrounded by steel" argument - too bad those cars are mostly plastic), and since they have no intention of ever owning another car, they don't bother getting collision insurance. They don't care who they hit, and therefore they don't bother with mirrors (even if they're tall enough to see them) when they back up. Stay away.
2. Don't park near white vans, especially if they have rust on them. Silly? No. Everyone knows that white vans mean "serial killer", right? Every time you hear about something dreadful happening like little kids being propositioned outside of schools, or muggings and rapes and abductions there's always a white van involved. Besides, every cop show ever made that's featured a hideous kidnapping or other crime involves a white van. White vans have bad pop-culture karma. Seriously, when you start noticing these things, they show up everywhere. Weird.
3. Don't park anywhere near an SUV that has one of those "honor student" stickers (My child is a coke dealer in the South Loop, My son is on his fourth DUI, etc. ) or the even smarmier little Mommy/Daddy/Kid/Pet stick figures pasted to a window. These people never pay attention to where they're going. They're either abasing themselves to their kids in hopes that they little buggers will shut up or shouting at them to shut up. Usually the golden lab is in the front seat, slobbering all over the windshield. You don't want to get near that.
4. If your car is new, make sure you get it good and dirty before you go to a grocery store in it. A new car in a parking lot is an idiot attractor. They'll be on you like a fat kid on a Smartie, and you will end up at the body shop for it.
5. It's SAFE to park by the tricked-out little putt putts that the kids are driving these days. This only seems counterintuitive. No matter how rough the occupant looks, they aren't interested in getting into any fuss with insurance companies or cops. Besides, if they are young kids, you have to know that they've fixed up their cars on their own nickel, so they know what stuff costs - no parent is going to pay for any of that.
Ok, those are the main rules. I have a strategy for dealing with these poxes on humanity. When I go somewhere that has a parking lot, I go during off-peak hours. I have no day job, so thats relatively easy. I park away from entryway doors, preferably in a corner somewhere with at least two spaces between me and the cars on either side. Call me paranoid, I can take it, but I just don't like spending a fortune on body work and I won't drive a bunged-up vehicle.
So here's the question....
Why is it that when you do that - park away from as many other vehicles as you can manage - some asshole always has to snuggle their minivan or pickup right next to your driver's side door?
As a corollary, why do they do that when you're in and empty lot? It's not like they're going to run out of room, yet someone ALWAYS does that! Why park so close?
Enquiring minds and all that....