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A large SUV parked in two spots

Andrew Clark/The Globe and Mail

Dear Mr. GMC Yukon,

A few weeks back I wrote a column excoriating you for parking in two spaces. I wasn’t nice. I wrote, for instance, that while it’s okay to occupy two spots when a lot is not at capacity, “It’s an entirely different scenario when there are no spaces, when the parking lot is full, and you take two. That’s impertinence taken to sublime heights. That’s an ill-mannered triumph worthy of Hercules.”

The column garnered a lot of responses – a lot of outraged responses. One reader commented, “You make this person out to be the most evil person on the planet. Most people are decent, they have family and friends that love them and are important to them. I find you Andrew Clark a very unlikeable person from this article. You seem extremely bitter and obviously very cynical. If you let this upset you I would hate to see how you deal with real adversity.”

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Regarding my unlikeability, fair point.

My mother once told me that my “ability” to be disliked was one of my best qualities. But so much anger and outrage directed both at you, Mr. GMC, and me – the Road Sage – leads me to believe that the whole incident, and my take on it, is worth revisiting. So, I’m writing you again. There are factors I did not examine.

Many readers had similar experiences. “I have seen this parking behavior countless times!” wrote one reader. “The worst I have witnessed was not only straddling the two spaces (left and right) but crossing the middle line so the driver took 4 spaces. Sadly, this behavior is becoming more and more common.”

What if, however, you did not occupy two spots intentionally? What if you arrived and found that another car had parked across the lines? You were forced to take two spots. The other car leaves and you look like the villain. “Happened to me,” a reader commented, “and not much I could do except leave the parking spot vacant for fear of ‘wing nuts/vigilantes’ that are replying to this story vandalizing my car. Do not comment unless you have the whole story.”

What if there are other reasons? One reader wrote about his wife, who uses a wheelchair. “The other day she was taking my daughter to a soccer practice in Vaughan. Someone was in the accessible spots. She had to park in two spots so she could get her wheelchair out and get in it. The result was that she came out of the complex after practice to find a vulgar note from a presumptuous idiot which made her feel unsafe, unwelcome; and ... sad.”

In 2011, I encountered a BMW taking two spots and wrote a similar piece – that received over 750 comments. I can’t recall one that demanded we identify the person who had taken the two spots. That’s changed. Some wanted you exposed. Some wanted retribution.

“Could have saved a lot of trouble if we could read the license plate.”

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“Why did you blur the license plate?”

“Shame you blanked out the number plate. This person of entitlement might see it and not even realize that it was them. Come on....print that plate.”

“A good public shaming can be quite effective.”

So, why did we blur the plate?

We blurred the plate to protect privacy. It’s our common practice. In this case, however, I made a special request to make sure we blurred the plate because I don’t think that you – Mr. GMC – deserve to be persecuted. True, I wrote a letter lambasting your behaviour, but I have nothing against you personally. For all I know, you may be a great person (you’re almost certainly better than me). Maybe this is the first time you’ve ever done this kind of thing? Even if you’re not, even if you’re not the best person in the world, you don’t deserve a public shaming.

Let’s face it, we all have moments as drivers when we are less than generous, less than noble, or quite simply “less than." I’m not referring to the serious tragedies that occur on our roads. I’m referring to the minor inconveniences, such as finding a car using two parking spaces when the lot is full. I’d hoped that by writing about your parking, it would remind each of us to make an effort to curb the frequency of these moments.

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Finally, some objected to my assuming that you were male. What can I say? Starting my letter “Dear Mr./Ms./Mx. GMC Yukon” seemed a little impersonal. Plus, I assumed you were male. Call me old-fashioned.

Anyway, Mr. GMC, drive safe. I wish you well. I just wish people wouldn’t park in two spaces.

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