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!