Parking “Savsies”

by admin on January 2, 2012

I was prompted to write after I read several scenarios in which rude people, when called on their rudeness, react with even more rudeness and anger and insist on playing the victim. Looking back now, I don’t know if my dad did anything wrong in this story, but I am positive that his actions did not merit or excuse how he was treated. I would most likely call this experience “DMV Debacle”. I’m actually surprised the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) doesn’t have it’s own section but maybe it’s reputation is more one of inconvenience than rudeness. Technically, this happened in the parking lot anyway so maybe file under Road Rage? Anyway, the more accurate title for this would probably be something like “No Savsies.”

My father (who is 84 so he really puts the elder in ‘respect your elders’) was giving me a ride to the DMV (one we’d never been to and were lucky to even find) so I could get my ID renewed (oh how I now wish I could have done it online!). As the DMV never has a ‘slow day’ (or if they do we weren’t there for it), the dismally inadequate parking lot was of course packed (and oddly shaped so navigating was a pain the the rear). My father drove to an empty spot…that was not in fact empty but had a man standing in it. At first we thought he was just being clueless, like you’re walking across the lot and you don’t realize you’ve walked in front of a space. Nope. My dad rolled down his window and the man said he was saving the spot for his friend who was circling around, explaining that they had been illegally parked for 45 minutes.

Now I haven’t found a section about parking etiquette on the website yet, but my feelings about the situation are as follows: If parking is first come first serve, you circle around until you find something. It is a question of luck, and I don’t think anyone is entitled to a parking space no matter how long they have been waiting for one. If you see one open up, you pray to the parking karma gods, ‘make a drive for it’ and hope you make it. It doesn’t matter who saw it first, all that matters is who gets to it first. I’m not counting handicapped parking obviously, and pull-out-and-‘wave-in’ situations like that scene that happened in “Fried Green Tomatoes” (those young women in the beetle sure were brats weren’t they…).

My point is, I think it’s cheating to have a passenger in a car jump out and ‘save’ a parking space if the car in question is not in an immediate position to take possession. Even if they think they ‘saw it first’, I think it’s the same as cutting in line. You had your chance and missed, so go around again. It is also unfair to single drivers since they have no one to grab spaces for them even if they are first/waited longest. Never in all my years as a passenger have I been told “Oh there’s a space over there, grab it while I bring the car around!” If a driver said that to me I would just look at them like they were crazy.

Regardless of how I feel personally, because I don’t know the official rules of parking space etiquette, I can’t decide if my father was in *any* way rude or simply showed a “polite spine” (though I’m voting for polite spine I acknowledge I am also biased): Since he felt the same as me about the whole “saving the parking spot” idea, my father basically (but not impolitely) called BS on the guy. He shook his head and said quietly but firmly “No, sorry we’re taking the spot.”

Now the young urban man, who up to this moment had been civil if unrealistic, transformed before our eyes into every stereotypical gangster punk you’ve ever seen on every movie or tv show. He proceeds to cuss my father out and threaten him. He called him the MF word and said someone should ‘slash his *bleep*ing tires.’ I sat mortified with a huge knot in my stomach (and cell phone in hand praying I wouldn’t have to call 911), wondering if he was going to refuse to move, or if he would assault my dad when he got out of the car. He went off to find his friend that was circling while my father and I went into the building. I took a number and sat miserably in my chair, wondering if we would find our car keyed or tires ruined when we came out. A long time later, the man came in with his friend and sat down. The ironic thing is, he had a lower service ticket number than me (they must have grabbed one while still trying to find parking) and still got to go sooner anyway.

Looking back on it, I feel very sad and angry that this man chose to take his frustration out on my father. Maybe my father was rude to take the spot (I don’t think so but I’d appreciate any opinions on that), but the man was at his best a crass and ungracious loser. Also, when you think about it, it’s not a very smart thing to threaten someone in a place that has all your identification information – if we had come out and found our car vandalized in retaliation, the police would have no problem getting the name, license plate number, and address of their number one suspect!

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Snowy January 3, 2012 at 5:16 pm

[“I’m curious about how he did it: if the other man was standing in the space, did your father force him out of it with his car?”]

I wonder that, too. It sounds very odd that the kid would go from zero to sixty just like that. If Dad just started nosing in while the guy was still standing there–and it sounds like playing chicken might have been the only way to get him out of the space–no wonder the young man went ballistic. I would, too, if someone purposely aimed a moving car at me. You don’t respond to someone trying to run you over with diplomatic protocol.

Also, I forgot about saving spots you shoveled out in the snow. I completely agree; in big cities at least, if you shovel it, it should be your spot. Unfortunately I live in a Mason-Dixon state and we don’t do that here, at least in this half of the state. For 15 years I lived in an apartment building full of college students who were largely from the area. The first couple of big snows while I lived there, I’d carefully shovel out my car, getting the snow out of the space (instead of letting it pile up) and removing the snow at the end of the space so I wouldn’t have an icy “speedbump” to deal with, sometimes even sprinkling my own salt since the landlord sucked at keeping up with it.

I almost never, EVER got my shoveled space back and wound up parking where someone hadn’t done more than brush their car off, making big drifts I had to wade through. (Always fun when they brush their snow off their car so it piles up against your driver side, too, so you have a mound of snow to your rear view mirror to dig through.) I tried for years to get them to assign parking, but I’d probably just have had the kids shoving their snow into my space.

I finally gave up and more or less joined them since I couldn’t lick them. (I’d brush my car off back to front instead of side to side, then shovel enough to safely get in and out of my car and to not have a huge bump at the end of the space, but that’s it. No more clearing spaces for the same kids who were annoying the hell out of me with constantly loud bass lines, spitting on the stairs, and peeing in the bushes.)

[“I would have reported the man to reception. He shouldn’t queue jump by getting a number ticket sooner – it would be interesting if he had missed his time and was told “no”. I would also report them for illegally parking for 45 minutes. People shouldn’t make threats like that.”]

They did nothing wrong here; they didn’t jump the line. It is perfectly acceptable for one party to go inside and grab a number while the other tries to park.

[‘: saving a parking space in a parking lot that is extremely busy and crowded–especially for more than about 2 minutes–is unacceptable and rude, but if there is plenty of parking (if a bit further away), then I don’t see much of an issue.’]

If there’s other parking close by, I’ll just go find other parking. No sweat off my brow. If there’s absolutely no other parking, I’ll tell them I’ll wait a few minutes, but if the car doesn’t show and another spot doesn’t open up nearby, I’ll need the space.

Also, I’m trying to figure out the logistics of the whole “saving a parking space at the mall” thing. In the OP’s story I see how it was that one person was parking and the other in the space, but what about otherwise? Does one person stand in a space while the other one tries to find a closer one? Do they arrive in separate cars? How does that work? If there’s two of you and you need a close space that much, why not drop the one off and the other walk?

[‘Saving a whole row of movie seats in a theater where people are lined up waiting to sit down (and your party doesn’t show up for 10 minutes) is wrong.’]

I have mixed feelings about this. If I’m meeting a bunch of people for the movies on a busy night, it might not be possible for everyone to get there in time to sit together, so we might want first one there to save seats. It’s still annoying as hell to be the fifth one in the theater and there’s alread someone there with coats, bags, newspaper and snacks stretched out over a whole row. At least they’ll be together and not visiting or texting each other from all over the theater.

On the other hand, if another group shows up and wants a group together and your empty row is the last one left (other than the one in front that nobody wants because you break your neck), I think you lose. They managed to actually *get* there–they get the seats. Likewise, once the lights go down you’re about to lose them, and once the movie starts, they are forfeit.


Angeldrac January 3, 2012 at 7:11 pm

It’s strange, I read “young, urban man” to imply a well-dressed, young, professional-looking city dweller. Obviously we all derive different meanings and connotations from certain language and phrases used. It just goes to show how carefully we should both be in expressing ourselves and interpreting others, something we all should be aware of in this forum environment.


Katy January 3, 2012 at 11:13 pm

I live near enough to Chicago that I understand the rules of ‘dibs’. You shovel it, it’s yours. No suburbanite coming in for work or someone visiting their aunt/cousin/mother/whatever should be able to steal the spot you spent sometimes hours working to clear. And the police recognize dibs as well. Every year I read rules about what is permissible to put out in your spot for dibs, how close to the curb it must be, and when it’s time to bring your dibs items inside.
I don’t know what it is, but parking lots make some people crazy. I was recently at a big-box store, and came across a spot about six spots away from the door, next to a cart coral. As I was turning the wheel to go into it a minivan turned into the lane from the other direction. I didn’t pay much attention to it, there was a closer spot about to open up, so I thought they were waiting for that. So imagine my surprise when, as I’m standing at the customer service desk, a woman comes up and accosts me. She starts with “when someone turns on their blinker that means they’re going to take that spot!”. She followed me for a couple minutes before I made the mistake of engaging the crazy by saying “if someone is already pulling into the spot you can’t claim it with a turn signal”. Seriously, she must have seen it from the next lane over or something and turned her signal on, because I was half in the spot before that minivan was fully turned into our lane. She went off on me, screaming and insulting me. Luckily a manager showed up as soon as she insulted my kids so I didn’t do something too stupid. I left shortly after, and she must have gotten kicked out or something because she tailgated me down the road until I got on the freeway and managed to get away from her.


Abby January 4, 2012 at 9:00 am

The guy obviously has some issues, screaming like that, but I think OP and her father were rude/antagonistic first. The other two were there first, had been looking for a spot for the last 45 min, and were probably a row over when they saw a spot open up. The man was probably able to run over quicker than the driver could maneuver the car. Whether you agree or not with the practice of ‘saving’ a spot is irrelevant. He was already standing in the spot. Your father kept pulling in after the guy had nicely stated his intentions. That, to me, is what started the conflict. No doubt the guy massively overreacted and could potentially be dangerous, but the whole mess would have been avoided if your father had just backed out and kept looking. Roll your eyes and mutter that the guy is rude for saving a spot if you must, but pulling in and taking the spot by force is no less rude, I don’t think.


AIW January 4, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Sorry OP, I think you and your father were rude first. Two years ago a mega-mall opened here with much hoopla – the opening weekend was mobbed, and parking was in short supply.

*A woman was struck by another driver behaving just as your father did – she was holding a spot and the other driver hit her with her car. FWIW, the driver was charged with a crime (I’m not sure what – driving like a fool?) and the spot holder was charged with nothing because holding a parking spot is not illegal (perhaps rude, depending on your point of view), whereas driving at people with your car, on purpose, is.

Now, the young man in the OP was equally rude; however, I have to admit that if I was threatened with a car, I would likely be rather verbal about expressing my annoyance as well.

*As to how a ‘spot holding’ situation happens, two people are in the car, circling the lot. One of them spots a parking space one (or two) lanes over so the passenger jumps out and goes and stands in the spot giving the driver a chance to pull around into the correct lane. While it may be rude if there are multiple people circling the lot (i.e. the cars currently in that lane should get the spot) driving into a busy lot and pushing the holder out of the way with your car, when they were obviously there first, is much, much ruder, IMHO.


Carol January 4, 2012 at 10:57 pm

The OP complains about the young man’s curse words but doesn’t realize that actions speak louder than words. In this case the OP’s father’s actions said F___ you!


Linz January 4, 2012 at 11:10 pm

It would be one thing if the young man ran to the spot as the OP’s father pulled up, but he was there first. Parking spot saving may be an etiquette grey area, but the way the OP’s father acted was not. The young man explained is reasons in a reasonable and civil manner and the OP’s father responds with, “I’m sorry, we’re taking the spot.” Rude, and obviously not sorry.

I think the young man reacted with cursing and threats because sometimes the only way to get a bully to back off is to try to scare them. A few years ago, a man got into an argument with my boyfriend over parking, my boyfriend can be scary when he wants to be (lets just say, every time he’s been robbed or attacked, he’s the one that’s always walked away, even when the other guys had knives or blunt objects), but this guy wasn’t backing off. I was told to stay in the car, but after a few minutes of the other guy threatening to get his boys to shoot my boyfriend(he didn’t have any boys with him), there was only one way to stop the madness. I got out of the car and played, “angry Italian girlfriend” and the guy backed 0ff, they both apologized to each other and that was the end of it. And they were both parking like idiots, both equally wrong.

I doubt that the OP’s father could have handled himself if confronted with someone willing to back up their threats, and I seriously doubt the police could have gotten there in time to protect the OP and her father if things went any further.


runriver January 5, 2012 at 2:28 am

@Katy I still don’t get the saving of the parking spot. We dig ourselves out, and go about our business. Are you saying that if I lived in Chicago, I could put a lawn chair/plant/Christmas tree there and save it? That’s just…silly.


bilbysa January 5, 2012 at 7:59 am

@Tanz, I read the OP’s ‘urban’ comment just as you did; as a misspelling of ‘urbane’.

I also must admit that any racist connotation completely escaped me. But I don’t live in the USA, and therefore would not associate certain terminologies with specific local attitudes.

On the subject of what was right and wrong… it’s a tough one, as I can see both sides. If I had been the driver, I’d have been miffed at the ‘saver’, but would have moved on, opting to avoid a confrontation. If I’d been the saver, I’d have been hopping mad at the entitlement displayed by the driver, but would have conceded defeat (albeit ungracefully!) and walked away…then badmouthed the driver to my friend, lol. Sometimes there is no right or wrong way to act – just the right or wrong way to react.


Angela January 5, 2012 at 7:27 pm

I saved a spot for a friend, once. She had just come back from Afghanistan (Marine), and had driven 10+ hours to pick up her dog to a neighborhood where parking was very hard to find. I knew it might be rude, but figured the circumstances were so that it was warranted.

Then again, I am urban. So urban that I don’t have a car or know how to drive. We urban types actually just take the train or bus everywhere we can’t walk to.


Asharah January 6, 2012 at 3:15 pm

@runriver, I get the feeling you do not live someplace that gets excessive snow storms. Where I live doesn’t get blizzards every year, but when we get them, they come in with a vengeance. It can take hours to dig the car out, and if you go somewhere and come home to find somebody has taken your space, you might have literally no place to park if the snow is deep. Trust me, I know.


Megumi January 8, 2012 at 5:59 am

This reminds me of a rather bizarre neighbor we used to have. His house was across the street but he would put orange traffic cones out in front of our house to block off the area he liked to park in. Both houses have driveways, and there is no shortage of space on the street. Maybe parking does make people crazy? Our neighbors on the other side are always having workmen use our driveway or blocking it without asking, but have left snide notes on our guest’s cars if they park in front of the neighbor’s house, on the public street, as the neighbors claim this as their parking space despite also having a driveway and a garage.


sarij January 13, 2012 at 9:36 am

@bilbysa I totally agree with your comments (from your name I guess you might live somewhere near my neck of the woods) – I didn’t imagine any race attached to the description but also in two camps on this one. I have been in that parking situation and just had a little complain to myself about the saver and moved on – the time spent looking for a close park is most likely the same amount of time it would take to find a park further away and walk for those that are able to. Although if you are circling the car park and keep seeing that person saving the spot for more than say 5 mins, what is the general consensus then?

As to the OP’s situation, as her father was not required to be inside at the DMV I would agree that perhaps a drop off and wait elsewhere situation might have been the best option. As a previous poster commented: safety before etiquette.

As to the ticketing system inside, fair play to whenever you get a ticket. The rule for me is that if you are not there when called you forfeit your place – take your place at the back of the line.

Perhaps others (and admin) can tell me about the etiquette though of the situation at a car wash; tickets are bought inside the (attached) service station with the line of cars with purchased tickets for the wash lined up behind the station. Am I right to call entitlement for someone to park their car in the line for the wash and then go inside to purchase a ticket (holding up the car wash) while all others have been waiting in line inside then moving their car to the line?


justme June 23, 2012 at 10:04 am

If the OP’s father was not required to be at the DMV with the OP, then think it was rather rude for him to insist on parking his car at all. In a case where it’s known that parking is limited, and not everyone has the luxury of getting a ride from someone who can simply drop them off at the door, I think the most polite thing would be to drop the OP off at the door, drive around a while (go have some coffee or something), and come pick up later. That’s just my opinion, though (and for all I know, there was a good reason the OP’s father needed to go inside, as well).
In any case, it seems unlikely that the younger man would have conceded the spot so easily, unless he was being forced out by the OP’s father’s car. If that was the case, HUGE no-no, and could actually get you arrested where I live.


justme June 23, 2012 at 10:05 am

same could apply for the man saving the spot, I guess, I they weren’t both required to go in.


Kelly August 22, 2012 at 2:54 pm

I had to laugh at some of the comments involving “dibs” on parking spots that people had to shovel themselves out of because of snow. I live in the Northwest. We had a couple of record breaking snow falls for 2 years in a row a couple of years back. On my street and neighborhood, we had street parking. After a couple of very heavy snowfalls, my husband would dutifully dig out my car and I would be off to work. While at work, husband would clear out the parking spot for me, directly in front of our home. Of course, upon returning home, one of our neighbors would be in the spot. Nothing much we could do about it, the street isn’t our property but was frustrating none the less. When husband was relating a couple of these stories to a visiting cousin from Chicago, he said in his neighborhood, residents would put a lawn chair in the cleared out spot to put “dibs” on it after being shoveled out. He then said that if the lawn chair was moved by someone besides the owner, and that person took that parking spot, it gave the owner rights to take out the car with a baseball bat. He said it was “law” in Chicago :).


Carolyn McCoy February 21, 2014 at 5:36 am

What pray tell is an urban man?


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