Monday, October 27, 2014


from here
Our garage is on an angle that makes it well-nigh impossible to manoeuvre our car into, and considering I run into poles even when I have plenty of space, “well-nigh impossible” is not a parking situation I want to be dealing with every day. Unfortunately, though, finding a spot on our street on a weekday is often difficult, thanks to the fact that it’s untimed and a block away from the train station. Every morning the spaces fill up as commuters leave their cars and head to work, and then from 5pm onwards the spots start opening up again. It is very exciting – VERY EXCITING – if I find a parking space on our street after returning from dropping Moses off or picking him up from preschool. It is even more exciting – EVEN MORE EXCITING – if I find a spot on our street immediately outside our apartment block. Moses has a special celebratory chair-dance for these rare occasions.

Last Tuesday I finally pulled into our street after a tiring afternoon of child-wrangling, and was very excited – VERY EXCITED – to see a free car space at the top of the hill. I headed up, pulled into a driveway to do a u— my goodness, I’ve never had to write the abbreviated form of u-turn before! How do you spell it? U-ey? Anyway, I pulled into the driveway to turn around so that I could then park in the free spot, and as I reversed from the driveway, SOMEONE PULLED INTO THE SPOT FROM THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE ROAD, AND PARKED FACING THE WRONG DIRECTION. Do you know what I mean? Here’s the situation in pictures, to help:

The driver jumped out of the car, glanced at me, then turned to his letterbox, grabbed his mail and headed quickly for the front door. I sat there waiting for him to turn around to acknowledge the look of utter shock and disappointment I’d been perfecting over the previous few seconds, hoping that upon seeing my face he’d be filled with remorse and compassion, and would then wave a sorry to me, hop back in his car, and move it elsewhere. He didn’t look back. He unlocked the front door and walked in, and I realised it was time to reposition my face and find another parking spot. Swistle reckons “in some cases, three separate responses might be needed: ‘the one I think is the right one,’ ‘the one I would find immensely satisfying,’ and ‘the one I think I’d actually do.’” In this case, I’d break up “the one I would find immensely satisfying” into two sections (“legal” and “illegal”), so there’d be four responses instead:

The one I think is the right one:
I think I should have beeped him. Unfortunately I’m very uncoordinated, so my brain was too busy getting my face into the perfect ‘shocked and disappointed’ position to even consider asking my hands to do anything too. Beeping would have both a) encouraged the guy to look at me (then he would have seen my face, been filled with remorse and compassion, etc., etc.) and b) vented some of my frustration, which instead ended up being taken out on Moses, whose tantrum about how far we had to walk when we eventually found somewhere to park around the corner was quickly interrupted by my tantrum about not being able to control which parking spots were available and when, or else OF COURSE we’d park out the front of our house, I wasn’t parking a block away JUST TO SPITE HIM. I really wish I’d beeped the guy, that would have felt right.

The one I would find immensely satisfying (illegal):
It would have been IMMENSELY satisfying (when it was clear the guy wasn’t going to look at me again or repent of his inconsiderate ways) to suddenly jam my foot down on the accelerator and ram into the front corner of his smug little car (JAM AND RAM), then to see HIS shocked and disappointed face appearing at his door and to flip him the bird before speeding down the street so fast that no one could see and write down my license plate details (JAM, RAM, AND SCRAM). Alas: a) I did not want to have the police show up on my doorstep because someone had seen and written down my license plate details; b) I did not want to have to explain to Alan what I’d done to our car; c) I freaked out that I’d be recognised by the guy, who lives in our street, who would then spot me later and try to kill me; and d) I was aware of the fact that I was being watched from the backseat by two impressionable youngsters, one of whom I’ve repeatedly told to be kind even to people who aren’t kind to him.

The one I would find immensely satisfying (legal):
As I stewed over the situation later that evening while chopping up vegetables in a violent and cathartic way, I decided that it would also be immensely satisfying to walk up the hill late at night, and to write “I steal car spaces” and “I am inconsiderate” and “I am not a very nice person” in liquid chalk all over his car, and then to tape pieces of paper saying the same things all over the top of that (I considered using gaffer tape to get the paper to stay on so that it’d leave sticky bits all over the car, but decided I’d use clear tape just to prove that I was a fairly kindhearted person), so that when the guy came downstairs the next morning he’d find his car covered in notes, and then remove the paper to find even more notes, at which point he would break down and sob, “Whyyyyyyyyyyyy?! Why did I do it?! I’m going to find that poor woman and apologise, so help me God.” Alas, I didn’t do this one either, because I was a) scared of getting caught and murdered, and b) not bothered enough to i) go buy a colourful liquid chalk (ours is white, and his car is white), ii) find somewhere to print out my notes (we don’t own a printer), or iii) stay up late at night.

The one I actually did:
So all I actually did was sit there looking shocked and disappointed for a long time, and then I cried and yelled and cried and attacked some vegetables and cried some more while daydreaming about payback. And then I mulled over it for days afterwards and thought about how very nice it would be to believe in a deity who would send a pox on the apartment and hail on the car of anyone who steals my parking spot, but instead my God has to be “compassionate and gracious...slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness“ (Exodus 34:6) and someone who inspires irritating things like “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing” (1 Peter 3:9). Grr. Is beeping an insult? Is it gracious to let someone know theyre an inconsiderate poo-face? Im not sure...*


* Actually, Im reasonably sure, but Im pretending Im not so that I can keep imagining the guys horrified face as I go zooming off after crunching up his car corner, laughing my mean little head off.


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