Bad parking is like snoring. We all do it, but we only notice it in others. And, as with snoring, bad parking is hard to ignore. There are many kinds of bad parking – everything from drivers who park too close or too far away from the curb to those who take two spaces as if they were a birthright.
Let us, at this time, consider the motor vehicle magicians who can turn a street-parking space that could accommodate two cars into a useless stretch that can barely accommodate one. Merlin. Houdini. Such master prestidigitators had nothing on these parking “Space Invaders.”
The Space Invader methodology is as simple as it is irritating. It combines blind indifference to others with laziness and shoddy technique. Want to be a Space Invader? It’s a four-step process.
1. You must scour the street searching for the largest space possible – ideally large enough for two, maybe three, automobiles.
2. Nose in. Parallel parking would be too difficult.
3. Make sure to somehow occupy the space so that it is impossible for any other vehicle to fit in.
4. To truly be a Space Invader you must leave five to eight feet between you and the cars in front and behind you.
Voila. Space that could have held at least two properly parked vehicles has been squandered. A Space Invader in a pick-up truck can burn up parking for three sedans. Think of Space Invading as a spin on Orwell’s “thoughtcrime” but instead of unorthodox beliefs and doubts contrary to the tenets of Ingsoc, the person parking suffers from an utter obliviousness to the potential needs of others. Space Invading is above all a “thoughtless crime.”
Like anyone living in a large city where there’s not enough street parking, I encounter Space Invaders on a daily basis. I’m always struck by how much it exasperates me. The first time I pass a car that is selfishly occupying enough space for two vehicles it is like stumbling upon a long-lost ancient monument to self-centeredness. I’m stunned by the grandeur of the gesture. The second time I pass, as I circle the block desperately hoping to find a spot, it digs into my nerves. The third time I find myself imploring some unknown higher power for an explanation: “Why couldn’t he just pull a few feet further? Didn’t he look around when he got out of the car. What is wrong with these people?” The fourth time finds me swearing and fantasizing about notes I could leave on the windshield.
But what to do when the Space Invaded becomes the Space Invader?
I must admit to succumbing to the allure of parking gluttony. When I’m feeling tired or just can’t be bothered, I’ve nosed into a parking spot and, when I exit the old anti-Porsche I see that I have been less than considerate. Most of the time I get back in my car and make an adjustment. Yet, there have been moments when I have left it there – to my eternal shame.
Of course, there are far worse sins than Space Invading. Parking is rarely a lethal crime. Perhaps we should deal with it the same way we deal with a bedmate who’s snoring. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and ignore it. If that fails, give them a firm – yet loving – nudge.
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