There’s a Starbucks on a street corner near our house. It’s a busy place in the morning, and it doesn’t have its own parking lot, although there is an available lot only a hundred feet or so away. I walk past the Starbucks every morning at about 6 a.m. on my outbound early morning jaunt, and walk past it again at about 6:30 on my return home.
By then, inevitably, there are extremely important people who have parked illegally right in front of the store, so they can dash in to get their morning Starbucks fix without having to wait an instant longer, walk a few steps after parking in the available lot, or comply with posted parking signs like the rest of us average folks. And they’re not just parking in a legitimate spot that requires a special sticker, either. No, they’re leaving their cars in clearly posted “No Stopping” zones, where their cars block the crosswalk, meaning anyone walking by has to squeeze between parked cars — which isn’t very safe when people are driving in and out, like at a Starbucks — and anyone who happened to be using a wheelchair, walker, or stroller would be totally out of luck because the curb cut and incline are totally blocked. And, also inevitably, these self-absorbed illegal parkers who can’t spare an extra minute of their time then put their car in reverse, in the process going the wrong way on a one-way street, and back out onto Third Street before going on their merry way. In the process, they pay no attention to anybody who might be crossing the street behind them.
This who scenario bugs the crap out of me (obviously), and I’ve had to restrain myself from saying something to these scofflaws when they happen to leave the Starbucks as I am walking by. Last week I thought we had reached the nadir of lawful compliance in our society when somebody parked in the no stopping zone — immediately behind a police car that was parked legally! Talk about chutzpah! And I toyed with the idea of actually calling the police to see if they could send out somebody to ticket a few of these selfish people and remind them that the parking laws apply to them, too. But I restrained myself, trying to adopt a “live and let live” attitude.
This week, though, a police office magically appeared at the Starbucks corner at just the right time and wrote tickets for every illegally parked car. I actually patted the guy on the shoulder and thanked him for doing something to promote pedestrian safety and take a step to advance the “broken windows” theory in our neighborhood. I didn’t summon him, but somebody did — and I was glad.
I hope the illegal parkers enjoyed reading their tickets as they savored their triple caramel latte and thought about their enormous importance.