Friday, November 25, 2005

Parking Etiquette

First of all, I’ll describe my general parking strategy: Let’s say that I enter a parking lot that is full, and I need to wait for someone to exit before I can park there. I’ll position my car in some midway location (not right at the entrance, and not at the exit), will try to place it so that other cars can pass me if they want, and will wait for someone to return to their car, drive off, and free up a parking space.

This method has several advantages. One is that it removes the angst involved in driving around and around, essentially waiting for the same thing that you could wait for while standing on one place (for someone to come and reclaim their car). The second is that it removes the angst involved in realizing that someone returned to claim their car just as you drove by it, and therefore the person in the car behind you is going to get that space.

But today, after strategicly positioning myself, and congratulating myself on how quickly a shopper emerged to return to their car, a Lincoln Navigator that had been way ahead of me went into reverse and passed me on my right, in order to position himself for the parking space that was soon to be freed up.

I could imagine him thinking: “Well, I was in the parking lot before she was, so I deserve this spot.”

Ok, but I’m thinking: “You’re being pretty pushy. I would never go into reverse to try to take a place that another car had already clearly claimed.”

As it turned out, a few seconds later, another shopper emerged to claim a car further ahead on the right, and another one to claim a spot even further ahead on the left. My quick-to-reverse parking challenger got confused. He wasn’t sure of the optimal approach. He started edging forward, indicating he’d take the second spot on the right. Then the third spot, the one on the left.

The ultimate outcome: We all had to wait until the third spot was emptied – the Navigator was blocking us. Then the first car exited. Then I parked. Then the second car exited. Then he finally could park. If he had stayed where he had been in the first place, he would have parked faster, I would have parked faster, and the first two cars could have exited faster.

Now that’s not always the case, sometimes the spoils do go to the driver that is willing to elbow out the competition without regard for formalities. But I think some general guidelines would be helpful. How about my basic strategy – up above – as the basic rule…?


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