Parking Passions And Passive-Aggressiveness Placards

It’s the holidays.  We try to love our fellow man — except when they stink at parking.

What is it about parking that stirs the passions so profoundly?  Perhaps it’s because parking is such a simple, commonplace, communal activity that we take it for granted, and when someone violates the basic societal norms that have long governed the parking process it shakes the foundations of our world in deeply infuriating ways and suggests that we may live surrounded by clueless, self-absorbed idiots.

Whether the disturbing scenario involves going to a crowded parking lot and seeing that some jerk’s bad parking job has effectively taken up two of the precious spaces, or parking at a meter and returning to find that the kind people parking in front of and behind have left you no room whatsoever to maneuver out of your spot, or shoveling out your standard parking place after a huge snow storm, marking the spot, and then returning to find it occupied by someone else’s car, bad and inconsiderate parking tends to fuel rage.  And often the only meaningful outlet for the inward rage is a pointed, passive-aggressive note that can be hilarious to those of us who are only passing by.

Some years ago, BuzzFeed carried a story that displayed 40 great passive-aggressive parking notes.  There’s even a website called passiveaggressivenotes.com that collects choice examples of anonymous signage in which angry people try to change the behavior of the thoughtless people in the world.  And passive-aggressive signs aren’t limited to America; Richard and I saw the sign accompanying this post on our visit to Paris a few years ago.  The lesson for those of us with passive-aggressive tendencies is:  always have pen and paper handy, because you never know when you might see some jerky behavior that needs some gentle correction.

Advertisements

Looking For New Parking, More Than 20 Years Later

I’ve parked in the same parking garage on East Long Street in downtown Columbus for more than 20 years — until today.

IMG_4906Tuesday night a colleague and I were walking out to our cars when we were approached by a guy who asked if we were monthly parkers.  When we said yes, he said that city inspectors had, apparently without advance notice, posted a small sign declaring that the parking garage was unsafe.  The colleague and I looked at each other and shook our heads in wonderment at this news, because the structure has always had a distinctly aged, rusted, ramshackle, crumbling character to it.  But the price for a monthly spot was very affordable, our expectations were adjusted accordingly, and we had hadn’t noticed any sudden drop in parking quality.  So we shrugged and drove home.

Yesterday morning when I pulled into the garage news vans were out front, broadcasting about the city’s action.  I parked there anyway.  Why not?  I’ve paid for my spot for this month, and I had nowhere else to go.  But when I walked to the garage last night cheap white plywood barricades, with blood red danger warning signs from the City of Columbus Department of Building and Zoning Services, were placed across the entrance — giving the garage an even more decrepit, condemned feel.  Clearly, parking there is no longer an option, unless you want to feel like a squatter.  I think I’ll pass on that.

So, after two decades of not giving parking a second thought and driving to my garage on autopilot, I’ve got to figure out where to park my car.  Of course, so do all of the hundreds of other people who parked in the same garage.  Suddenly, in a downtown area where surface lots are ubiquitous, parking is at a premium.

The Value Of A Buddy

This morning I will drive in to work, as I always do, and park in my spot in my parking garage, as I always do.  My “parking buddy,” the Yankee Cavalier, will do the same.  We both park in the same, elongated parking spot in the same garage.

Our parking garage is a throwback.  Unlike more modern structures that have only individual parking spaces, our aging garage has “buddy spaces” — spaces big enough to accommodate two cars.  Buddy space parkers give each other the spare set of keys to their cars.  If I get to the spot first, I’ll back all the way in, and then the Y.C. will park in front of me.  If I have to leave before he does, I’ll need to use that spare key to move his car, pull my car out, and then back his car into our joint space.

The Y.C. and I have been buddy parking for more than 20 years — longer than some marriages.  The garage has been sold from one conglomerate to another, and still our buddy arrangement prevails.  We’ve exchanged the keys for a number of new cars and alternative cars, and I’ve sat in the driver’s seat of Y.C.’s rig, moving it just a few feet and then backing it up again, countless times.

Sure, it’s not perfectly convenient, but a buddy space is cheaper than a single-car space, and those savings have added up.  During our 20-plus years of buddy parking, I’ve saved about $5,000 that otherwise would have gone into the coffers of some impersonal company.  For that kind of savings, I can endure a little inconvenience — and I also appreciate the useful reminder that even small monthly savings can, over the course of a career, accumulate to a significant sum.

Yes, the Y.C. has been a very good buddy to have.