Mike Catello

ds141117_parking…oh, man, we have one of those middle aged sweet car dudes…

…you would have been out of the store by now…

…she just parked there. you can’t park right next to her…

…that’s it. just drive through the lot across the spaces. we’ll all move…

…YOU AREN’T HANDICAPPED…

I often spend my work breaks chilling in my car in a grocery store parking lot. I read, write, or gaze aimlessly into the void of Greentree, PA.  I’ve been doing this for a few years, and I’ve realized that there are certain styles of parking. Most of us park cars intelligently, but there’s a subset of parkers that are plain idiots.

The Dude

A red Camaro pulls into the lot and faces me off to the right. The car straddles the white line that squarely delineates “this” space and “that” space. A salt-n-pepper dude I figure is 58 emerges. He gives his car a once-over and then locks it with his key held over his shoulder as he heads toward the store. This cretin has such little trust in the goodwill of his brothers and sisters of the human race that he encloses his car in an invisible protective bubble.

The Dreamer

A young woman in a black Nissan SUV with semi-tinted windows expertly maneuvers her car into a spot near the far right of the lot. The car doesn’t come to a complete stop. This space is Ok but not good enough. I’m settling if I stay here. There must be something better over there, to the left, closer to the store. The car advances cautiously through an empty space and into the empty lane. I watch as she drives down the lane and then makes an abrupt right into another space. She lingers a bit longer in this spot than the previous one, but yet again, no can do. I’m better than this. What about over there? There must be a better place. I must be there. She backs out, makes a right at the end of the lane, and finds a  spot only a few down from her original home. She parks confidently. Here. Here is good. I did it. This is parking paradise. She gets out and walks to the store like she’s conquered the world.

The Snuggler

An older lady makes her weekly stop at the store and parks her Chevy Lumina squarely in the space. She’s made it. Her day is going well. She’s earned the right to have a peaceful experience at the grocery store. A younger woman driving a pickup truck followed behind the old lady. The pickup truck snuggles into the space right next to the old lady. “Whoa,” I exclaim to myself. The old lady exits her car and comes face-to-face with the monstrosity. I telepathically educate the pickup driver, When you witness someone parking, you don’t choose the space next to them. Give them room. Give them at least one space of freedom, especially on the driver’s side. The young lady is in and out of the store almost before the old lady navigates around the bed of the truck.

The Anarchist

I catch a Silverado in my rear-view mirror barreling towards the parking lot. He runs a stop sign and veers off to the right. He crosses three lanes and a bunch of empty spaces, taking out light posts, women, and children along the way. He makes a wide turn to the right, completes a 360, slams on his brakes, and docks his truck perfectly in the spot. The truck rocks back and forth a few times as it recovers from the hell this guy has put it through. Out pops a man in his late 50s/early 60s with construction boots, tight blue jeans, and a trucker hat. I can only say, “Jagoff.”

The Privileged

Even though we may have contemplated parking in a handicapped spot on a frigid January day, can we agree that handicapped parking is the least society can give? A blonde hottie (judged only by a headshot at this point), driving a car advertising some cosmetic company, pulls into the space with the blue parking block and the universal sign for “PARKING FOR HANDICAPPED ONLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”.  I give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she deserves the spot. She fixes her hair in the rearview mirror and bounces out of her car. Her fat butt looks like thousands of cotton balls were forced into her yoga pants. She ambles into the store like everything is right in the world. I await, ready to pounce. She returns to her car, happy, cheerful, and lights up a cigarette. I direct my anger neuronically through the air into her mushy brain: “No, no. You shouldn’t be happy. You should be miserable because you have made the world horrible.” She leaves the lot, and I want to leave the human race.

A parking lot is a microcosm for our democratic society. The peasant and the aristocrat are equal. Each of us asserts our right to park while respecting the rights of others to park. Sometimes, we compromise because our chosen spot has been taken. Individuals come together for a common cause. Society functions. That is until one of these idiots show up.