No Guilt

It’s Saturday night and my girlfriend is pulling her car into her apartment building’s driveway. We’ve just come back from a nice dinner but a brutal, hard rain is falling. Even with the wipers going full blast we can’t see two car lengths ahead of us. Now my girlfriend’s building has two parking lots: one large one in the back and a small one on the side. The lot by the side is ten paces from a door. If we park in the back we’ll get soaked to our skivvies.

When we arrive at the side lot there’s one parking space left. But it’s a crappy spot on the end, half as large as the others and at an angle that will leave the ass end of her car sticking dangerously out.

“This sucks,” my girlfriend says.

“It’s better than parking in the back,” I say. But just then an SUV pulls out of a primo spot close to the entrance. But then it does something funny. It pulls back into the spot.

“What’s he doing?” my girlfriend says.

“Maybe he’s just straightening out his car.”

“Let’s wait a minute.”

We pull into the substandard parking spot and wait. The SUV’s lights are on and, despite the rain; I can see the exhaust leaking out of its tailpipe. No one is exiting the car and no one’s coming out of the apartment building.

“I know what he’s doing,” I say. “He’s running out to get something but doesn’t want to lose the spot. Kill the engine.”

So my girlfriend and I wait in the dark car and occupy ourselves by drawing pictures on the fogged up windshield. After five minutes the SUV pulls out and drives away. The moment he’s out of sight my girlfriend fires up her car and slides into the spot.

“That guy’s going to be pissed when he comes back,” she says.

“Hey,” I reply. “When you move it you lose it.”

If you’ve read my blog over the years you know I have issues with parking. During the blizzards this past winter my neighbor Phil would bring a bulldozer from his job site and clear the snow from my street. My neighbors in the adjoining area weren’t so lucky. And as the snow piled up they started putting what I call “ghetto barriers” to save the hard dug out spots in front of their houses – lawn chairs, garbage cans, even a baby carriage. But since my street was wide open the people who lived in the apartment building a block away started clogging my street. One night I couldn’t park anywhere near my house. One woman even parked her car for three days in such a way that she took up two spots. So I left a polite note on her windshield asking her to be considerate of the people who lived on the street. The next morning I woke up to find signs tacked on all the trees protesting my covetousness. But she never parked on my street again.

But my issues go further than that. When I go into Manhattan I usually park in a garage. That drives my thrifty girlfriends nuts, but I’d rather pay the money than put up with the stress of hunting for parking spots. Nothing wrecks an evening in the Big Apple than spending forty-five minutes trying to berth your car. But after watching me have an epic meltdown on West 15th Street a few months ago my girlfriend decreed that henceforth she would do all the driving in New York. Smart woman. I pride myself on being a patient fellow but parking brings out my dark side.

Once we get inside my girlfriend’s apartment relatively dry she asks me to take out the garbage before we settle in to watch a movie. And as I bring the bag down to the basement I see a man walking up the stairs with a carton of takeout food. He’s soaked to the skin. He’s probably the guy from the SUV and to say he looks miserable is an understatement. I walk right past him without an iota of guilt.

Does that make me a bad person? Maybe. But sometimes guilt is a useless emotion.


Comments

No Guilt — 29 Comments

  1. When it comes to parking in NY, defeat is not an option. Kill or be killed. Don’t blame you a bit. For that. I DO blame you for not posting more often!!! ;-)

  2. Why do i feel like an old Jewish mother?
    “My son, he never calls, the last time he sent a postcard Nixon was president and he never posts on his blog anymore…”
    But when you do find time for us, it always makes the world, with all it’s problems, just a little bit brighter and better.

    Thanks Steve, you are still worth the wait.

  3. Heh, I had just removed your blog from my bookmarks last night. Good thing I’ve got you in my list of blogs and interesting on Twitter!

    Guilt is very often a useless emotion, especially over something like a parking spot. He could have always ordered delivery (and then tipped the delivery person very well for going out in the rain!)

    You pay for convenience, in money or in other ways.

  4. my feeling about parking spots is simple: park in your own designated (as in numbered, you paid for it and it is yours) spot. if a spot isn’t numbered/assigned to a tenant – fair play to you or the suv driver who went out on a rainy night!
    re: driving/parking in manhattan – cab, walk or public transportation! no one should ever drive in the city! (ok, i just visit and i’m too busy being a tourist to want to waste time driving/parking!)
    p.s. good to read you again, sugar! xox

  5. Nice to see a new post Waiter. It is sad that I get excited about a guy who essentially posts about his experiences parking and eating…but I guess maybe not all the best literature is escapist :P

    Anyway, I too am beginning to come around to paying for parking at ridiculous rates (note: I live in DC, where, unlike NYC, parking is terrible and EVERYBODY has a car). Nothing gets me angrier than the terrible city planning (in MD and DC mostly), terrible/aggressive drivers, and weird establishment locations here. Now sometimes I see the $8 parking signs (for two hours at night) and think, well maybe that $8 will be better than freaking out over street parking.

    Hope to see more posts soon!

  6. Haha, classic. Always so happy to see a new post from you. I’m so glad we don’t have these parking woes where I live. I did see a standoff the other day though at a hospital, I was walking to my car and an old lady asked if I was leaving. I told her I was so she walked with me. Once I pulled out of the spot she stood in the empty space waiting for her husband to come around again. Another guy decided this was bullshit and started pulling into the spot. She was standing her ground yelling that she was minding it and the guy in the car was screaming “move or my bumper will move you!”. She looked at me for support but I’m not sure what she expected me to do, a polite “sir, she did follow me to stand there saving it for someone” wasn’t going to help here, the driver already knew that. He rolled in and she moved out of the way.

    I didn’t feel like an asshole until about half an hour later when I found myself thinking about it and a little chuckle slipped out, I don’t think either of us are bad people though. Happy Easter!

  7. Even here where parking in not as crazy as NYC it still drives people to do wierd things.
    As far as I am concerned you should try to act the same way behind the wheel as you would face to face – but its advice I ought to take myself.
    As for saving spots – as my mother used to say ‘its bums wot save seats’ and I guess its cars that save parking bays, not chairs, prams or little old ladies.

  8. Where I live, it’s not as crowded; but people will get “parking rage” if you take a spot. When I was a fairly new driver, a man said he would have beaten me up had I not been a girl.

  9. Either you could be soaked, or he. Nobody owned the space, so why not him?

    I would never celebrate dog-eat-dog behavior, but this isn’t it. Just somebody who wants to leave a _public_ (to the building, anyway) convenience, and still have it waiting for him when he returns. Sometimes we’d all like that, but it’s not the nature of shared facilities.

    If this was a smaller building and you knew everybody and you knew the person leaving was frail old Mrs. Jones with the bad hip who has trouble walking, it might be a different story. But it wasn’t.

    Besides, don’t people carry umbrellas where you live? On rainy days, I wear a compact job on my belt.

  10. .

    why not just have an umbrella handy ?

    actually i’ve seen people, on beautiful clear and plesant days, waiting for a spot close to the door of a GYM ! shouldn’t someone wanting excercise park as far away as possible to the door ?

    what a lazy people we are

    frankD

  11. Nice to see a new post Waiter. It is sad that I get excited about a guy who 好秘书essentially posts about his experiences parking and eating…but I guess maybe not all the best literature is escapist

  12. Call me a terrible person, but I can suffer from some terrible rage parking so I know where you are coming from. I had my blinker on waiting for someone to pull out and an SUV whipped right in and stole it nearly hitting me in the process. I returned the favor by doing something that shall remain unsaid but you can probably figure out what.

  13. I’d have dropped the girlfriend off at the door and then park where ever. It really doesn’t matter that much. But you do write well, old boy.

  14. No guilt warranted here. It’s not as if you’d taken a spot reserved for the disabled when you were perfectly able-bodied.

    I’m glad to see you writing on your blog again.

  15. I want to comment generally. I have just read “Waiter Rant” Thank You. I teach Junior High (16 YRO’s) Commercial Cookery and Hospiality and your book is a revalation that I will use, with some editing, as a source of the reality of the industry. We have it a LOT better in OZ in terms of wages bit I knpow that other problems exist and not wanting to get my students stary eyed is a problem.

    I also apologise retrospectively for my ignorance of your wages situation on the occasions I have visited the US of A.

  16. I feel you with the heavy snow and people putting up “ghetto barriers”. I’m always tempted to take their plastic chairs and throw ‘em on the sidewalk. Only concern is that they then key your car when you park in the spot. But hell, everyone had to dig their ass out of a spot in the snow. Cities on the east coast should do snow like Canada, using snow melting machines instead of plows and shovels.

  17. Wow, just checked in here randomly to find a new (ish) post! Well done.

    Well-written as always; just finished reading Waiter Rant again for the third time. I’m about to leave my restaurant after three+ years and it’s going to be hard… I imagine it will be like when you left the Cafe, remembering what you saw at differently-numbered tables… table 21 is where I watched an engagement end, table 53 where I saw an engagement start. Table 42 where a woman ate her last meal. Table 10 where a father and son got in a fistfight over who would pay the bill. Anyway glad to see you back.

  18. Guilt is almost always a useless emotion. The only purpose it serves is to make us feel bad for things we already recognize that we did wrong, and driven by guilt we usually make others feel bad in an attempt to alleviate it.

  19. Yeah, it’s so un-stressful and guilt-free that you blogged about it.

    I moved out of the city and don’t miss it for a second!

  20. I don’t understand why you’d feel guilty about getting an open parking space? Or write a blog about it for that matter…

  21. I would never wait for someone, rain or not. Time is far more precious than a little wet clothing. My take is, drive until you find a spot then walk in…try to NEVER circle. You are a human, not a buzzard waiting for a carrion spot. The walk will do you good and NEVER stressing about finding parking again will free your mind so your ass may follow.

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