Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Parking conflicts and shiny red balloons...

So there I was, sitting in my van on the shopping center lot Friday, addressing an envelope. I had made a last minute run to pick up Valentine's Day cards for my two elderly aunts and needed to get them in the mail - pronto. I was mailing them at their local post office so I had faith they would arrive the next day. "Wump". The car door next to me rammed against the passenger side of my van. I sighed deeply but decided not to react. "Wump". "Wump". Twice more! Okay, time to fire up .

I was formulating what I intended to say and reaching for the window button when I looked over and realized there was a very small girl struggling in a stiff wind to get her bright, shiny heart balloon into the back seat as she climbed in. She was so excited. I melted. She really didn't know any better. The wind was blowing at like 35 mph and she was so focused on keeping that balloon safe. Dad was busy arranging things in the trunk and hadn't noticed. I could have said something to him but chose to just suck it up and let it go. After all, Daddy had just bought her a balloon. A shiny red balloon at that!

Of course, as he climbed into the front seat of his car, I heard yet another "Wump"! Kids do learn what they see.

So why do they design parking lots the way they do? Good thing so many vehicles come with sun roofs, or perhaps we should call them "escape hatches." The spaces seem to be designed to the exact measurements of the average car without any allowance for opening the doors. The operative word here is "average." While I do drive a minivan, it is actually narrower than my friend's Honda Accord, an "average" sized car. It is merely higher and longer than the Accord. They (the parking lot engineers) also assume folks will take the time and effort to exactly center their vehicles in those spaces. How many people do this?

I came out the other day to find a Hummer parked next to me on the driver's side. It's a wide vehicle so the driver, needing room to open the door, allowed space on the driver's side when they pulled in. This meant their passenger side cleared my side view mirror by about 2 inches. I couldn't even walk between the cars let alone open the door. Obviously, they assumed I'd simply crawl in from another door - maybe the backseat - after all, the sliding doors don't need any room to open out. My guess is, they never gave me any consideration at all. Everyone seems to just be concerned with their own comfort and convenience these days. I got in on the passenger side and climbed over the console. I'm really getting too old for such acrobatic maneuvers.

It's not all the drivers' faults. Our state code actually does specify the number and size of marked parking spaces on commercial lots which, as written, would be sufficient. However, every new shopping center that is built or expanded around here requests "exceptions" to the parking requirements. There are almost always two requests made. The first is to alter the size of the spaces by "just a few inches" so as to get an extra space or two into each parking lane. (These are apparently those few inches we need to open our doors.) Once they've added those extra couple of spaces, they then request an exception to have fewer spaces than recommended. (Recommendations are based on the type of business and the square footage of the establishment.) After all, by adding two extra spaces on each row, they come "fairly close" to the suggested number. They've made a good faith effort. I've never seen any of these developers get turned down for such requests.

It almost makes me understand those folks who purposely take up two spaces on the lot. After all, they are special and unique people. Rules don't apply to them. I know this because I've seen them at the grocery store, the dry cleaners and the pizza shop. They're the ones that pull up at the curb and park in the fire lane or the loading zone. You know, the ones blocking the cart ramp in front of the grocery store door. They can do this as they are "just running in" to get a few dozen items and, after all, they did put their flashers on. I have nothing against drivers stopping to drop someone off in front of the door but why do they then need to sit there and wait at the curb. Can't they pull down into the parking area while they wait? They could then watch and pull back up there when their shopper actually came out of the store. This way, those who wish to load their vehicle at the curb could do so without double parking and blocking the traffic lane. But then those other people probably aren't as "entitled", are they?

Don't even get me started on the handicapped spaces!"

Incidentally, my van has a sturdy vinyl bumper strip down the side that absorbed all those bumps by balloon girl and her dad. I'm glad I didn't ruin her joy in that balloon. She did seem awfully happy! (Did I mention one of my favorite childhood reads was "The Big Red Balloon"?)

So, the next time you're out shopping, please think about the driver of the vehicle in the next car and give them an inch or two. Oh, and try not to slam your door into theirs. It really is the considerate thing to do.

1 comment:

moddyboy80 said...

I swear my heart started beating faster with every WUMP!