Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

(iStockphoto)
(iStockphoto)

Road Sage

Permit me to complain about parking Add to ...

There is a rusty minivan parked in front of my house.

It’s the colour one’s urine becomes after you’ve ingested a multi-vitamin. I make such a comparison to make clear the fact that I do not like looking at this minivan.

It’s been there, badly parked a foot and a half from the curb at an angle, for two weeks. It will likely be there another three days. Then, at the start of the new month, its owner will drive this banged up menace around the block and park it across the street in front of someone else’s house.

More related to this story

I’m not sure if the car can actually drive more than a block. Its abilities seem to extend only as far as parking. It only moves twice a month.

Normally, one might put a car like this in a garage. Urine Minivan owner doesn’t agree. He has a parking permit. He can shuttle his trash box on wheels back and forth for the rest of eternity, like Sisyphus pushing his rock. For eternity or until his permit runs out. Garages? He don’t need no stinking garages. The street is his garage.

It’s a familiar story to city-dwellers. If you live in one of our nation’s various Sodoms or Gomorrahs and you want to park your car overnight you need a pass.

Back in the old days you had to line up for hours to get one. This was a hurdle. Only those who truly needed street parking would endure the tedium of the permit line-up. I once gladly waited three hours to buy a six-month pass that would ensure that my little 1982 light-blue VW Rabbit got her sticker.

Now you can “do it all online.” It’s easy and so everyone does it. This includes people who own urine-coloured minivans to which I would like to apply a can opener.

Last year, somebody out-losered Urine Minivan. A driver left a white van with a flat tire parked, immobile, blocking sight lines and acting the eye sore, for around nine months.

I’m not arguing the legality of their acts. If a car-owner has a sticker that wards off parking vampires, that’s all he needs.

The streets are public. We all understand that. Yet when it comes to street parking things get murky.

Intellectually I know that, if he beats me to the spot, it is Urine Minivan’s right to park his rusty piece of crap in front of my house for 15 days out of every month. But instinctively I know that the space in front of my house is mine by divine right. I may not own it, I may have no actual right to it, but there is an unspoken code. The parking space in front of my house is in front of my house. It’s mine. What more evidence is required?

Oddly enough, this logic does not extend to parking spaces in front of other people’s houses. Those are mine, too.

What makes Urine Minivan’s street park even more frustrating is the fact that he does not even park properly. When you are dealing with limited street parking, you are obliged to maximize the space. If a space can fit two cars, you make sure to leave enough room for the other guy. It’s common courtesy. Not Urine Minivan. He takes up one and a half spaces with his magnificent pile of garbage.

In the suburbs, street parking is not as fraught with moral ambiguity. The parking spaces in front of your house are yours. Neighbours may use this territory if they are holding a party or a wake, but all cars are to be cleared by dawn.

Back in the city, scarcity breeds hoarding and I’ve since taken to “saving” street parking spots.

I have two cars (two, count ’em two) a Camry and a Grand Caravan. The Camry – few people know this but the word “Camry” is Latin for “compromise” – resides in our private parking space. When street parking gets tight, I drive the Camry out to park it on the street. Then, when the Grand Caravan nears home, I get a call and I hop in the Camry, timing it so that just as I leave the coveted space, the Caravan pulls in. Then I park my Camry back in our private spot.

It’s a shamefully greedy act. A couple of neighbours once saw me execute it. The expression of their faces was a mixture disappointment and envy that said, “We wish we’d thought of that but we didn’t so we hate you.”

It’s at moments like this one that I wish I had a cigar at the ready, so I could spark it up, sit on the hood of my Grand Caravan, and revel in my parking space. Victory is short-lived. But what goes in must go out. Sooner or later I’m going to have to drive that Grand Caravan somewhere and when I do Urine Minivan will be there, at the ready, waiting to park his jaundiced family-friendly vehicle in front of my domicile.

Follow Andrew Clark on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy

Follow on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories