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.