Parking Paranoia

Some people deserve a serious kick in the butt. More specifically, I’m talking about Selfish Parkers. That’s right, complete with upper case initials.

We’ve all been there; you finally arrive home/at the office/wherever and start circling the building hopefully. Only, of course, you end up parking goodness know where because your car will not fit into any of the available spaces. Not because your parking skills are particularly lacking, but because some selfish sod decided that parking across two boxes is perfectly socially acceptable.

Bad Parker

This is not some rare phenomenon that I encounter, say, once a month. On the contrary, I would say that the majority of drivers in Malta seem to delight in selfish parking. Maybe they get a kick out of knowing that they have ruined someone’s day and caused them a stomach ulcer, who knows? I happen to live in a neighbourhood where parking spaces are at a premium. This pretty much applies to 95% of the island nowadays, I guess, so I’m sure you will empathise. One side of the road happens to be neatly divided between garages and parking spots, the latter just  the right length to accommodate two parked cars.

Every single day of the week there are at least three drivers who casually plonk their car bang in the middle of said spaces – meaning, of course, that only one car will fit in a space meant for two. In this way, three parking spaces are wasted just because these drivers are either too stupid or too selfish to park properly. It’s always the usual suspects who are to blame.

Now this is someone who drives a very small car and who really couldn’t care less about keeping it in pristine condition. I have been known to squeeze my car in spaces so tight that a stick insect like Kate Moss would have trouble squeezing in between the bumpers. I think nothing of literally parking with my bumper touching that of the car in front of me, if the driver of that car was the one responsible for ruining my parking spot in the first place. It actually gives me a sneaking feeling of satisfaction knowing that the culprit will come back and probably have kittens at the sight of the dirty car behind him hugging his rear bumper.

I say “his” but this is definitely one case where gender equality reigns supreme. I’ve witnessed both men and women drivers taking up two spots without any hint of shame. When I confront them about it  – and I always do when possible, politely of course, given that I have a healthy aversion to getting punched –  I usually get blank stares.

When you get down to it it’s probably all a question of manners. I was brought up to be considerate of other people’s needs and feelings and it would never occur to me to be so rude as to take up two spots with one car. If I’m unsure whether I’m crossing the white lines I’ve actually been known to get out of the car, check it out and then reverse/move forward accordingly.

Sadly, not many people share a love of good manners, as can be seen from the general me ne freghismo  towards others in countless other situations. Rudeness is rife on the roads. Drivers think nothing of stopping for a casual chat in the middle of the road, even when there is an empty space they can use so as not to block the way.

I’ve even witnessed people taking up two spaces in commercial carparks. The “please park within the lines” signs apparently don’t spell it out clearly enough. Two days ago I actually saw someone park right by the stairwell, nowhere near the legitimate parking spots and half blocking the exit, when there were ample empty spaces on the opposite end of the carpark. But there was no way he was going to inconvenience himself  by parking in a legit spot, of course. Heavens forbid he’d have to walk all the way to the stairwell.

Of course it’s a question of manners. Bad ones, at which a lot of us appear to excel. Here’s to a hassle-free week.

This post appeared on The TV Guide (The Times of Malta).