...a potent blend of Miss Manners and Batman

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Parking, Part Two: Car-Sitters

Thoughtless Parkers threaten to disrupt the parking of an entire block, resulting in the loss of a parking space. Car-Sitters, on the other hand, merely frustrate the person who is waiting for them to get out of a space that they no longer need. On the face of it, Car-Sitters should be placed higher in Dante's levels of hell because they only annoy one person (or family) at a time, but Voice of Society Man has noticed, over the years, that these people are harder to reform. They are truly the scourge of parking.

Mere mortals, especially of the City Mouse variety, tend to get so caught up in their own little world that they don't consider their effect on others. Here is a typical interaction after I have pulled alongside a car with someone in the driver's seat:

I knock on driver's side window and make the universal rolling-down-window sign. Car-Sitter obliges.

Me: Hi. Are you getting out soon?
Car-Sitter: Yeah. I'm just waiting for my extremely fit wife to hop out of that gym. She'll be here in less than 20 minutes.
VoS Man, taking over for Me: Could you possibly pull out and double park so that I can take your spot?
Car-Sitter: But she'll be here soon.

There is no logic that can pierce the mind of a Car-Sitter. I have never succeeded in convincing someone that he could improve the world by having only one person wait rather than two. Car-Sitters are only two steps above Cat-Stranglers.

There is, thankfully, a way to deal with a Car-Sitter, and I recently employed it outside my in-laws' apartment building. In this case, there was a dark blue sedan waiting outside the luxury building across the street that is inhabited solely by the sorts of people who call for a taxi twenty minutes before they plan to get into it, just to make sure that they won't be late for the plane that takes them on their next business trip.

I spotted the driver and told my wife that, hurrah, our long search for a spot had been rewarded with a space just across the street from our destination; what luck! But lo, I noticed that this was a car-service taxi, and these drivers are the most obstinate car-sitters of them all. They are only one step above Cat-Stranglers.

This dialog ensued:

Me: Hi. Are you leaving soon?
Car-Sitter: I'm just waiting for someone. Should be no more than ten minutes.
VoS Man: Uh, could you possibly double park so that I could have the spot?
Car-Sitter: No, he might have a lot of luggage.

Well, that sounded a bit reasonable, but then I remembered the law: Taxis are not allowed to take parking spaces. Once again, Voice of Society Man's acute sense of all things legal would win the day. But no, this Car-Sitter was obstinate, even for a taxi driver. His response to my information was to roll up his window. I had to act fast. I moved my car up so that he could not leave his spot and then informed the Car-Sitter, thru his closed window, that I would be popping over to the nearby Starbucks. I mentioned that I wouldn't be more than ten minutes and asked if he needed anything. The driver cried that he wouldn't be able to get out; I reiterated that I'd be less than ten minutes.

At this point, the taximan's fare appeared from his doorman building with the gym on the second floor. His many bags of luggage consisted of one small carry-on. Real men don't check luggage. Voice of Society Man quickly informed him about the pressing need for Starbucks and how his driver had not relinquished a space, causing disharmony in the universe. Naturally, the passenger was infuriated (not with his driver, however), and in truth, VoS Man had no right to keep him from his plane when the fault lay with his driver. So I tactfully explained that I would forestall my latte in exchange for an apology from the taximan. When this didn't come, I headed back up the block, but the loud protestations of the passenger brought me back. He apologized for the driver, and that was good enough for me. Voice of Society Man had dealt with a powerful foe and had triumphed, in a manner of speaking. That driver will think twice before taking a space outside my in-law's place.

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About Me

My pesky alter ego who will set you right if you break one of the unwritten rules of getting along