Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How you park your car...a window into your soul

From my seat at my desk in my office I can see part of the parking lot behind our building. Which gives me something to look at while pondering the deep and imponderable depths that is college financial aid and other related topics. Like how the federal government is going to define a credit hour and how that impacts life at our college. It is RIVETING over here people. RIVETING.

Anyway, as I stare out the window wondering how to implement the next oh so well thought out financial aid regulation, I notice things like how people park their cars. This time of year I have fewer examples to go by since there are very few students on campus, but sometimes that gives me even MORE information to go by.

It is my theory, and I am sure I am not breaking new ground here, that how you park is a direct reflection of your personal gestalt, your world view and how you view your place in the world.

Most people observe quite nicely the painted lines, the signs that indicate that spot is for handicapped parking only, or for faculty and staff only, or for visitors to campus only, or that a particular spot is, in fact, NOT for parking in at all because that would block the fire lane. These people are also probably the people who share easily and graciously, wave people in front of them at a 4 way stop sign or let the person trying to cross a busy street go before driving through an intersection.

But inevitably, there are those who think that rules are not for them, or that they are merely guidelines which, should they need to, can be ignored. My personal favorite is the person who chooses to park in the aforementioned no parking because people might die when the fire department cannot get past your stupid car spot. There is always one of those each term. Parking there has the added benefit of also blocking in at least two other cars who are legally parked in spots perpendicular to the no parking spot. So someone parking there thinks they are more important than a)leaving the fire lane open and b) the people who are legally parked and might need to get their car out when you are blocking them in.

Then there are the people who decide to park where there is no spot, at the end of a row, despite the fact there are perfectly usable, open spots in the lot, but just further way from the buildings adjoining the lot. Because college students are notoriously unfit and debilitated and cannot possibly be expected to walk an additional 20 feet.

These are the "me first" people. The ones who turn right on red even when the sign says NO TURN ON RED (and usually that sign is there for a reason, like it is a dangerous intersection for doing that) or who zoom around you erratically if they deem you are not going fast enough on the road, or you are waiting too long to make a turn.

Lately though, the most entertaining person in our lot is the person who parks her car, head in, but 5 feet away from the front of the parking spot. So her tail is sticking several feet out of the spot at the back. I know who this person is, and I cannot say that this level of caution combined with cluelessness is surprising. The fact that she is so overly concerned about bumping into something in front of her that she risks her car being bashed into from behind completely aligns with her personality and general approach to life. She has, more than once, made life difficult for me because of her blind devotion to something, and completely disregarding the need to pay attention to something else. She does not work in my department, but we have reason to work together a few times a year and it usually involves me groaning and bashing my head gently on my desk.

It is probably not a surprise to you that I am an observer of most rules. I would not do well in my chosen profession if I wasn't. I park where I am allowed to park, neatly, within the lines, leaving enough room on either side for people to open doors and not smack into the next car. And that pretty much sums up my world view and my view of my place in the world. Play by the rules and no one ends up needing body work. It doesn't always work out that way, but it could, if people would just observe proper parking lot etiquette. A girl can dream.


Laura said...

HAHAHA, am I supposed to guess who this particular cautious parker is? What does it say about me that I rush at full speed into a space and then brake hard to avoid hitting the wall/curb/sign/other car in front of me? HA

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

I like your theory, MLM! Although in my case, I think that the how I park is driven more by the size of my vehicle than my Gestalt... but come to think of it, parking in the hinterlands so that I don't have to try too hard and can avoid the other cars might say something about my approach.

Thanks for your comment on my blog... I'll be back here for more!

Meg at the Members Lounge said...

Don't get me started on those that cannot stay within marked lanes because they might break a sweat turning the steering wheel. God, I'm already banging my head, too.

Schmutzie said...

You just won the poster print I was giving away! Shoot me an e-mail so that I can send your e-mail address along to


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

This is so very true. I have also noticed a correlation between the expensiveness of the car and the disregard for the lines--the two parking place people. Grr.