I was reading one of the comments of a Road Rage entry, and it reminded me of this story my friend told me. When we were in high school, my friend lived either next door or a few doors down from a single guy who was in his early 20s and threw parties all the time. The neighbor was friendly, well-mannered, and kept the noise down, etc., but parking did get kind of crammed because it was a short street, so late guests would often have to park a block over and walk to the house. Apparently, this was not good enough for one guest.
One summer afternoon my friend’s mom comes home from grocery shopping, pulls up to her house, and sees a car she doesn’t recognize parked in her driveway. Seeing all the other cars around and smelling the scent of barbeque, she suspects this is one of the neighbor’s party guests, so she just pulls into her driveway behind him and brings her groceries in. Lo and behold, about 45 min later she hears a knock on the door. A sheepish-looking guy tells her that his car is blocked in her driveway and asks if she could move it. My friend’s mom informs him that, unfortunately, she doesn’t have a reason to move her car because she isn’t planning on going anywhere any time soon. The guy tries to reason with her to move her car, but she politely informs him that it’s her driveway and perhaps he shouldn’t have parked there if he was going to be in such a need to leave. The guy gets this I’m-kind-of-annoyed-but-I-probably-deserve-this look on his face, apologizes for parking in her driveway, and returns to the party to wait. An hour or two later, she decides she needs to go out to the store for something, and when she comes back the car is gone. It never happened again. 0418-11
This isn’t an example of cleverness but rather retaliatory rudeness in response to an admittedly “sheepish” guest who makes a polite request to rectify the situation he got himself into. Graciousness is extending the hand of kindness to the undeserving and this case, while the guest goofed parking where he did, his attempt to move his car was matched with an appropriate level of chagrin and deference that did not justify the ungracious declination to move a car so he can reposition his vehicle.
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While I think that you should attempt to find out who is parking in your driveway, I don’t think that it’s unreasonable to have the car towed or to call the police. My grandmother had a mysterious car in her driveway. We asked the neighbor if someone at his house had thought that the driveway was his. He said that there was no one at his house, and he didn’t know who the car belonged to. We called the police who had the car towed. (If we had called a private towing company without going through the police, my grandmother would have had to fork over money to have it towed.) It turns out that the car belonged to a guest of a person who lived about 8 houses down from my grandmother.
This wasn’t a mistake. The guy made a deliberate choice to trespass on someone else’s property. He was lazy and selfish and didn’t care who he inconvenienced. I once made the mistake of nicely moving the nieghbor’s garbage can and grass clippings off my property when he decided one day that that’s where he wanted to keep them from now on. He moved them right back. Last time I was ever nice in a situation like that. Now I call the cops. I would have had the car towed. It would have been an expensive lesson for the spoiled brat, but that isn’t my problem. Random strangers tresspassing on my property IS a problem, and I would treat it as the criminal act it is.
I had this happen to me earlier this year.
On a Thursday, I took the day off so I could go on vacation for a long weekend. Friends and I were meeting at the hotel. In the morning, I was finishing up the packing, getting things ready for the cat sitter, and when I was ready to bring the car out of the garage so I could load it, what did I see but a stranger’s car in my driveway.
My first thought was: Who could that be? I’m not expecting anyone.
I ran to the door to try to catch whoever it was. Most of the time I can’t hear the doorbell go off and I thought that was it. No one was there. I went to the car and saw no one in it preparing to drive away. Confused, I peered inside, hoping to see a clue to who I needed to find so they could move the car. Nothing. Finally, my next door neighbor, who I’ve never had issues with before came out.
Her: I thought you were at work.
Me: (stunned pause) I’m going to be leaving in a little bit. I’m going out of town and I need to get out.
Her: That’s my mother’s car. She parks here when you’re at work.
Even more stunned silence. Who does this? She turned and went into her house. I went (on foot) to run one last errand thinking about submitting a pic of the car to Bad Parking if it was still there. Got home, it wasn’t. I loaded the car, got online, submitted the story to E-Hell, and went on vacation.
While out of town, I told my friends about the car incident. Every single person told me I should have called to get it towed. I said no, but if I see that car there again…
I also found out that another friend said she’d seen that car there before when I was out of town a year ago and she thought it was my cat sitter. Nope, wrong make, model, color. I told her to let me know if she ever sees the car there again.
Vacation was enjoyable, and I arrived home Monday afternoon. Guess what I found in my driveway.
This time I knew whose car it was and went to the neighbor’s house to tell her to move the car.
Her: I thought you were at work. Are you not working now?
Me: I take vacations sometimes. I need to get into my driveway.
Her: My mother’s over 80, and it’s closer.
Me: You should have asked first. I don’t like these kinds of surprises.
I did get a promise never to park there again. Mother might be over 80, but neighbor also has a driveway right next to her door. Two cars are already there. She could have moved one. It was March, which meant that there was still a ton of snow left over from winter and no parking on our street. Side streets were clear and there was parking within 20′. Had she asked me first, I would have said yes. But because she didn’t ask, just assumed my driveway was public parking, the answer to “Can I park here?” is an automatic no.
I think this lady, who’s a mom, when faced with a young man who did something thoughtless, acted like a mom and taught him a lesson. Personally, I would have moved the car, because yeah, he was stupid, but there’s no need to make prolong the drama. But I would have also said, “I’m doing this for you ONCE, because I like your friend and he’s a good neighbour.”
I also just wanted to chime in that we have no idea if this was his first offense. It was simply the first time he’d been caught.
At the point Karma made about calling the cops/remembering the car make and model and number if the man got up to any antics/ran over her garden/rammed her car, I think I fear more revenge in the form of some-time-next-week-something-happens-in-the-dead-of-night
To summarise what REALLY gets my goat about this story is that the mother, and the people supporting her, are all really passive agressive. You see a car in the driveway, you speak up to the neighbour and let HIM figure out how to move the car lest he invoke the wrath of a towing company/crow bar/paint stripper. THAT should be enough – you’ve said your piece and the car will be moved. How do you people handle ANYTHING going wrong in your life? If you see a puddle, do you step into it, slip and fall and then complain that nobody warned you? If your vegetarian sandwich was being made in front of you and a slab of chicken was put on it, do you let the sandwich maker continue with your sandwich, take a bite, THEN complain?
Yes the man was in the wrong. Loudly telling the host should be enough, blocking him in deliberately is foolish, (yes-there-i-said-it, foolish!) because 1) you risk a man with a victim-attitude stirring up an angry mob next door, 2) you risk a man with brains and patience who exacts mysterious revenge some weeks down the line, and 3) you’ve shown yourself to be a passive-agressive problem solver who hasn’t really used the most optimum way to solve a problem, going to the host and telling him loudly the car in your driveway is close to being towed already proves that you’re not a doormat, and that you’re fair and reasonable.
Yet Another Laura:
When I read your dialogue, I noticed how the neighbor commented several times, “I thought you had to work/were at work/aren’t you working”.
It made me shake my head because my MIL used to do that to us all the time. She would call our house and make a big show of being surprised no matter who answered. “You’re home? I thought you had to work?”, “Oh…aren’t you supposed to be working?”, “Oh, he will be home at five? Really? I thought surely he’d be at work until at least six.”
It used to slay me when she’d do this. We never could figure out three things: one, why she would call if she expected no one to be there, two, why she would repeatedly question either of us about whether we should be at work or not, and finally how she would question the person’s knowledge of what time the spouse would get off work. It was the weirdest thing.
(Eventually I realized that she was treating us the same way she treated her daughter whose husband chronically quit or was fired from jobs. After witnessing 11 job changes in less than two years, I realized that she was projecting her expectations for their family onto us.)
When I read your letter though, I thought: Is my MIL her neighbor!?!?!
Karma: My neighbor has no children, so I doubt very much they are the same person. Have people forgotten that we do get time off from work? What gets me is that she thought it was OK to park there without asking first, let her mother make it a habit to do so thinking I wouldn’t find out, and then when I did discover it by being inconvenienced, the mother parked there AGAIN. Four days later.
This thread reminds me of the time I was at a friend’s house. There was a party. My friend’s neighbor came over and demanded that two of their guests move their cars from in front of her house immediately or she’d call the cops. This was a major city and a public street. Anyone can park anywhere unless the city puts up disabled parking signs for disabled residents. No sign of that kind was within three blocks. I went out to move my car. I backed up to give her about 20′ between my car and my friend’s car so she could more easily parallel park. She yelled that the other car had to move, too.
I told her that she had plenty of space and went back inside. My friend came out and didn’t come back in. It was a month later that I got the rest of his story.
He came out and she was on the phone. She’d tried to parallel park between us and couldn’t. Plenty of room but she was just that unskilled. He told her not to bump his car or mine. It turned out she was calling the cops on him because he just threatened her. He laughed, it was just that ridiculous, thinking – ooh! funny story for later! — and got in his car and moved it. To go home.
He got less than a block and the cops pulled him over, made him get out of the car, and got his side of the story. They didn’t even give him a warning. I suppose the cop got a good laugh, too.
In our city, there is no reserved parking on the street. Don’t block a driveway, don’t park in someone else’s assigned space, don’t park in someone else’s driveway, but the street is fair game to all. The friend who lived there said that this neighbor had never given a spot of trouble before and she had a garage in back off the alley. Why she wasn’t using it….
@Izzy, and those who are suggesting that the outcome of inconveniencing this guy in return could lead to all sorts of dastardly deeds (her lawn being destroyed, her being attacked, him coming back another night to destroy her property, him ramming her car with his, etc.) – if this is your thought process, I’m not sure why any of you are advocating she go and confront anyone about it. I mean, if the rude driveway parker is so evil and violent, then surely his friends must be, too, right? Maybe they’ll all attack her. I think you’re all being a little alarmist about the whole thing. And Izzy, your examples aren’t comparable. She didn’t WATCH him park there, and then pull in behind him and complain later. He parked there. She went about her business and refused to move at the exact moment it was convenient to HIM. That’s how the cookie crumbles, when you park in a situation that could leave you blocked in, sometimes you have to wait.
@ Jillybean: I think what Izzy et al are saying is if the OP’s mother behaves in such a way as she did she could be taking things to a whole new level and it becomes a real conflict. Behaving in a childish passive-aggressive way with a stranger could escalate things.
What OP’s Mother should have done was to talk to the neighbour or talk to the car owner directly and get him to move the car. If the car owner doesn’t apolgise and move his car as he isn’t bothered then blocking the car in would be different.
@jillybean because confronting the neighbour about it is to let HER shine as a mature example of non-pettiness, if we follow the logic of she’s justified by being rude to him because he was rude to her, then we can assume an already rude person would feel justified in being rude to her for being rude to him for being rude to her. Sure this didn’t happen but almost any other option (tow truck? Assertively telling the host? Asking for payment then moving the car?) at least doesn’t let a rude man stew over it, or doesn’t aim his anger at you.
And I still think my example is comparable, yes it would have been simpler if she watched him park there and could catch him in the act, but my point is that she was being smug about being passive agressive, and mistaking THAT for being a polite spine.
When I get home from work I often take a few minutes to get cleaned up, freshen up my hair and makeup to make myself presentable for dinner. After that I am in the kitchen cooking, and sometimes doing things that I cannot just stop doing on a moments notice without ruining my food. I find it ludicrous that I should instantly stop my activities and move my car because the usurper decided that at that moment in time HE wants to go elsewhere.
Yes I would move my car but I will also move it when it is convienient and easy for ME to do so.
I agree with Louise! If I saw an unfamiliar car parked in my driveway, I would probably call the police at that point. Yes, there were signs of a party nearby, but criminals could use that as cover for breaking into neighboring empty homes (it’s happened). The OP doesn’t state whether the friend’s mom lived alone or not — all the more reason to be cautious.
As to how this situation was handled — I’m of two minds. I can see why the mom did what she did. If it were one of my crankier days, I may have been sorely tempted to block the car’s owner in too. However, I also would have been in fear about what this guy and his friends could do in the days/weeks/months to come.
As far as going to the host’s house to get him to ask his guest to move his car — I’d be a bit cranked that I’d have to further inconvenience myself to go to his place, wander through a houseful of people I don’t know, try to find the host and hope that he and the guest are sober enough to listen and cooperate with a neighbor. All this while, as another poster said, there could be dinner on the stove, other family commitments occurring etc.
I think I’m mean enough to be tempted to — in the interval between my discovering the car and the owner’s coming to retrieve it — invent my own sob story (i.e., perfect my “limp” and my agonized moan and perhaps a convincing story about how hard it is for me to get around these days, but I’ll “hurry” to back my car out for you (let me get my cane), etc.). Not kind, but….
In reality, I’d probably call the police and ask to get it towed. It’s a strange car that a trespasser left on my property. Police officers are in charge of public safety and it’s their job to see that the residents, their guests and their property are safe.
I was watching a programme about flytippers and litter bugs – in one city in the UK they have talking cameras an when people litter the controller talks to them, asking them to pick the litter up as littering is an offence. The man in charge of these camaeras say they work because 1) they are polite, 2) they are reasonable to the litter bugs but 3) no one likes being brought up in front of their peers. Going to the neighbour would be the best course of action – if the car owner doesn’t care or can’t be bothered then it’s different. It maybe unlikey but the person who parked there may have done so out of urgant need e.g. a passanger was ill or something like that and was planning on moving the car as soon as he/she could.
“Graciousness is extending the hand of kindness to the undeserving…”
Actually I think that’s called “being a doormat” and enabling the other person’s negative behavior. The true gracious behavior would have been for the other driver to think: “hey, maybe this person is handicapped, or needs to have access to their garage, etc.
He actually got less than he deserved, which was to have his car towed.
A lot of these stories involve situations quite different from the OP’s. Therefore comparisons cannot be properly made, it is a case of ‘comparing apples to oranges’.
In the OP, the ‘offender’s’ action was neither malicious nor a repeat offense.
Who here has never parked in a handicapped spot or a ‘no parking’ area because there were simply “no other places to park” or other self-justified reason? Who here has never parked in the emergency fire lane (in front of stores) because “I’ll only be a minute?”
Notice I did not ask, ‘have you ever seen someone…’? It is all to easy to pass judgment on others, but put ourselves in their place and we can often come up with a dozen reasons that why we did it was right.
And as regard legalities of situations, just because we have the “right” to do something does not make it the ‘right’ action for the situation.
I think what you’re mother did was extremely rude and in poor taste. She should have moved her car then had a conversation with the neighbor boy who threw the parties about where his guests should park. Then she should go get a “park at your own risk” sign and plant it in her yard. Also, if the car wasn’t an intrusion than she should get over it and just share her parking space if it doesn’t do any harm to do so. Whatever happened to just being nice even if you don’t know the person?
@ CindyG who said, “Who here has never parked in a handicapped spot or a ‘no parking’ area because there were simply “no other places to park” or other self-justified reason? Who here has never parked in the emergency fire lane (in front of stores) because “I’ll only be a minute?”
While I once parked in a no parking area because I was very young and very stupid not because I was right, I can honestly say I have never even considered parking in a handicapped spot or in an emergency fire lane for the fact that it is illegal resulting in a hefty fine for me and also for the fact that it would impede others who would need that space far more than I would.
@Paige who said, “if the car wasn’t an intrusion than she should get over it and just share her parking space if it doesn’t do any harm to do so. Whatever happened to just being nice even if you don’t know the person?” :
The parking space in question in the original post was NOT a street parking space, it was a driveway, which constitutes private property. The person who parked his car there was trespassing, an illegal offense (though albeit relatively minor). The person who parked his car there also parked far enough up the driveway to allow a full second car to pull in behind him, so it wasn’t as if it was just a few inches over the property line.
As to the question “Whatever happened to just being nice even if you don’t know the person?” it went out the window when the person parked there illegally without asking, which wasn’t nice either. As I posted earlier, if the woman lived alone (or if the neighborhood was a high crime area), a strange car on one’s property is cause for alarm. I’ve called the police about strange cars near my property (I live in a rural area and the owners of the cars in question would have had no obvious reason to leave their cars there. My house was the nearest and there was no sign of a person. How was I to know they weren’t planning to rob it?)
I didn’t mention it earlier, but it is possible that the property owner may have been concerned that the whole situation was a ruse to get her out of the house, to rob it, to assault her, etc.
I do understand the appearance of rudeness and/or passive/aggressiveness in this situation, but I also completely understand why the occupant acted as she did. Yes, it’s sad people have to think this way but it’s completely valid IMHO.
Exactly Paige, and why wasn’t he nice enough NOT to park in someone else’s private space? Maybe he should offer to buy her the sign as well. That would be a nice gesture.
Are you for real?
I’m sorry Paige – but can you explain why she should have to put a sign on her lawn telling people to park at their own risk? Her home/driveway/lawn is not a public parking lot. It is her private property. Share her parking space? Really? Should she let him rummage through her fridge as well?
@ Robert – yes pushing the car out with your car was thoughtless to do, you were provoked but the way you reacted was just as bad as the man – if the man had done the sensible thing of finding you to move it then you’d have moved it and he could park. Now here is an example about parking being clear. Did you try to explain to the man? If anything since he did not go about in the right way you could have phoned the police, explained the situation and got his car towed.
I think the only time it would be exceptable to block a car in or call the police to tow the car is if the owner is unwilling to move it after being asked.
@Yet another Laura:
I’m wondering if your neighbor thought she was doing you a kindness by having her mother park there when you were away (i.e., making your home look occupied by having a car there periodically). We’ve had people do this when we lived in a subdivision.
Yes, neighbor should have asked, but it occurred to me that that was the mindset.
I agree with Karma. Compared to some of your own suggestions in the past, Miss Jeanne, the friend’s mother’s choice seems both tame and reasonable. In fact I think it was quite sensible. The guy who parked there knew when he did it that what he was doing was both wrong and possibly illegal. He knew he could be inconveniencing the residents, and I’m surprised you’d take issue with him merely being inconvenienced when he could, in fact, have been punished.
He got off extremely easily in my opinion and the mother made sure it didn’t happen again, as no doubt the word spread. Really, she struck the perfect balance between being reasonable and being a doormat, and to me, inconveniencing oneself for the convenience of someone who knowingly (and illegally) inconvenienced you is the very definition of being a doormat.
@Izzy: I’d rather be passive aggressive than just aggressive. Delicate hint.
I’d add that there’s no way, simply no way, I’d personally inconvenience myself for the sake of someone who knowingly inconvenienced and trespassed upon me. To do what you suggested, the mother would have had to find another parking spot (let us remember, the guy parked on her property in the first place because there were none), find the person at the party to whom the car belonged (if indeed he was even at the party), and waited for him to move his car to park in her own driveway. Her. Own. Driveway.
No. Just no.
No one is entitled to do what that guy did, Izzy. No one. I try not to read between the lines of posts, but your anger leads me to believe, how shall I put this, that you’re taking the support for the mother a wee bit personally?
@CindyG: I’ve parked in red zones only for brief moments when I wouldn’t be out of view of my car (so that it could be moved) and I’ve never done any of those other things. So, to answer your question, me.
That’s not to say that someone can’t make a mistake, that someone can’t make a mistake I’ve never made, and still be allowed to slide. Innocent mistakes generally do deserve that treatment.
But when someone basically thinks, “Gee, it’s convenient for me to do something wrong and illegal, now! Think I will!” they’d better not expect me to be accommodate any of their personal wants. I won’t, and I haven’t an iota of guilt about it. That is not, obviously not, just an innocent mistake. It was done knowingly, intentionally, and with awareness of the possible consequences.
Please, let’s not pretend this guy’s innocent. He knew exactly what he did, that he shouldn’t have, and why. He learned the hard way, but by far not the hardest way he could have learned. To those who feel any sympathy for him, I’d think you’d be relieved on his behalf, rather than perturbed.
These responses make me laugh because of an incident involving my sisters driveway. I have a friend who lives directly across the street from her. In townhomes but you go down my sisters driveway and up hers directly behind her house which is how you usually enter anyway. That being said a couple of years ago her house caught fire and the police chief rang the doorbell to ask if he could park in the driveway of my sisters house. Mind you the streets weren’t full and there was other parking spaces and no one would give him a hard time but he still took the time to ask.
Also one time someone I know threw a party and apparently fell asleep before it was over blocking in some cars. When the guests realized this they decided to move the car for them by parking it on the lawn. Now they didn’t mind the friends moving the car funny enough but the neighborhood watch prohibited vehicles being parked on the lawns like that. They panicked that it would start WW3 (yes they had those kind of neighbors) and after moving it back wondered how it got there in the first place. Or maybe there was a note, I’m not sure how they discovered it but that was funny.
I disagree with the admin. I feel that it is very easy for people to pull out an insincere “sorry” when they have been lazy and done something that is likely to cause inconvenience to others. Sorry is not the balm that smooths over bad behaviour. The mother had no obligation to find out whose car was blocking her driveway, and no obligation to stop what she was doing and move her vehicle so he could get out. If it had been me I probably would have parked behind the offending vehicle then called for a tow truck. But then I am a firm believer in people learning from experience. Chances are this person never parked in anyone’s driveway again, not just the mother’s.