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All Keyed About A Parking Space

I needed to go shopping to get some last minute gifts. I had recently had to pay £300.00 (roughly $500.00) to fix my car as it had been vandalised. Because of this, I was hoping to get some cheap Christmas deals on the present that I was buying because money was tight.

I drove to my local shopping mall and saw a woman packing her shopping into the boot of her car so I indicated and waited until she left, so that I could park there. While I was waiting, a man in his car stopped at the end of the row of spaces, blocking the whole entrance to the car park. Needless to say, people behind him were very irate at the fact he was holding them up and started beeping their horn and shouting profanities at him.

Being young and naive, I had no idea why he had stopped so I just waited for the space. When the woman reversed out of the space, she blocked his entry into the aisle so that I could park, as I was waiting and indicating my intention to park before that man had stopped. It was not until this point that I realised his intention was to pull into the space before I could (I’d been waiting a good 5 minutes at this point), but he was unable to because of the woman’s positioning.

I pulled into the space and was messing around in my handbag to get my phone (I was meeting a friend and wanted to call her to let her know I had arrived), when I notice a car has pulled up behind mine, blocking me it. I got out of the car to see what was happening and see that it is the man’s car. (Now I feel it is appropriate to let you know that I am a nineteen year old girl and the man in the car looked mid forties and was solid muscle). He started yelling profanities at me, saying that I had stole his space and I had better get out “or else”. Even though I am a young girl, I do not appreciate people cursing at me so I simply said to him, “I’m sorry but I was waiting for the space first, indicating my intentions, so you will have to find another space.” At this point he started shouting again and unlocked his door to get out of his vehicle, because of his threats before, I just walked off because I did not know what his intention was or whether he was carrying a weapon.

I meet my friend and explain the story to her and said that I wanted to check up on my car because I guessed he would have done something to it, but didn’t want to see him again so wanted to wait. (My theory being that a car is easier to fix than my body). When I got back to my car, I saw that every single panel of my car had been keyed, all damage had been done hard enough to bend the metal of the panels.

Now I know that this may not be an etiquette faux pas but I do not know whether or not I was in the wrong for doing what I did. Should I have moved my car when he asked? Or did I do the right thing by sticking up for myself? 061-14

{ 144 comments… add one }
  • AnaMaria December 10, 2014, 9:35 am

    I feel like the OP is getting a lot of unsolicited advice here- I’m assuming she is British, and it seems many of those responding are American. We aren’t accounting for cultural or legal differences between the two- yes, this was a crime and the OP’s rights were violated, but the protocols she would follow to get justice (and the cultural expectations) may be different.

    She is understandably shaken and asked if she was really right to stand her ground on the parking space- I think most readers would applaud her polite spine and say she was absolutely in the right! Telling her what she should have done is not helpful (unless she finds a way to travel through time!). Don’t blame the victim, especially without understanding the entire situation!

    • Michelle December 11, 2014, 2:38 pm

      I don’t think anyone is “blaming the victim”. OP will encounter crazy many, many more times in her life and when she encounters it again, maybe she can remember some of the advice and put it in action.

  • Jessica December 10, 2014, 10:04 am

    OP, I think you were fine. You didn’t engage with him other than explaining why you parked in the spot he thought he was entitled to. The Holiday season brings out the worst in people sometimes. When I was 19 I had a very stupid ex-boyfriend who got upset about a parking spot. We were trying to find a parking spot at one of the busiest malls in Houston a couple days before Christmas. The parking lot was packed, and we finally found someone that was leaving and we waited with the turn signal on, indicated that we wanted to park in that spot. Well a guy swooped in and took the spot, and my boyfriend got very angry. I begged him not to do/say anything because you never know if the person you’re about confront is carrying a weapon (thanks mom for making me paranoid). In the end he just rolled down the window and passive aggressively said “Merry Christmas”. I just don’t think it’s worth it to get in an altercation about a parking spot. Thank goodness we are no longer together because he was kinda crazy himself.

  • Jenny R December 10, 2014, 10:29 am

    Immediately go and talk to mall security, almost all malls have their parking lots on video surveillance for liability reasons. If they still have the footage you can take that to the police and file a police report for vandalism and harassment, they should be able to get the license plate number from video. Press charges. You did nothing wrong, I had had similar happen but with only dirty looks. Waiting in my car for a spot with my turn signal on seems pretty clear cut to me, apparently not to everyone else.

    Seriously, call the mall right now, they tape over and recycle the tape every few days or weeks.

  • Dyan December 10, 2014, 11:15 am

    YOU did nothing wrong…he is the JACKA**…too bad you did not think to get his plate before you went into the mall…what a JERK

  • Raven December 10, 2014, 11:35 am

    I’m so sorry this happened! People can be so entitled – particularly during this time of the year. (Nothing says “Christmas Spirit” like destroying someone’s car and threatening them, right?)

    If such a thing ever happens again, note the license plate and call the police. Don’t be afraid of overreacting or bothering the police; they are there to help you.

  • alex December 10, 2014, 11:43 am

    You did nothing wrong if this is what happened. You were waiting first. You should have gotten his information and taken a photo and/or video. I would ask the parking garage for their cameras and file a police report.

  • Library Diva December 10, 2014, 11:47 am

    Weird theme emerging this week: people asking whether they did something wrong, when they clearly didn’t. Of course you didn’t do anything wrong, OP: you were there first with your indicator on. This guy, on the other hand, verbally harassed and threatened a woman young enough to be his daughter and then damaged her property, all over a parking space of all things. Don’t ask how I know this, but keying a car is not easy. You really have to put your shoulder and some effort into it to make a significant scratch. The fact that he managed to not just scratch but dent all four panels of your car means he must have been out there a while.

    File a police report and see if the store has surveillance. It’s about time this jerk’s behavior caught up to him. I hope that he gets caught and sentenced to make full restitution to you, and to take an anger management course. He desperately needs it, and society desperately needs him to take one before he moves up from property damage to assault.

  • Enna December 10, 2014, 12:24 pm

    I hope the OP reported this to the police. Next time take down his licnce number plate or snap a photo of the car. Maybe even film the man making therats to you? He might back down if he knows that he is being filmed.

    One time I was in the car with my parents and sibling. Dad was driving and he was being tail gated badly. (Tail gaiting is when someone drives too close to you to get you to drive faster). Mum looked over her shoulder and pretended to write down the car’s registration and saying out the licence plate in such a way that the driver could see. Lo and behold the driver slows down and pulls back.

    • Amanda H. December 10, 2014, 4:59 pm

      I know a few people online who take a similar approach to tailgaters. Only they get out the phone and mime like they’re taking a photo. Apparently it gets the tailgaters to back off almost immediately every time. Kind of brilliant, actually.

  • Kirst December 10, 2014, 12:27 pm

    This man committed criminal damage. You should have called the police before your insurance company. It’s probably worth doing it now anyway.

  • Ashley December 10, 2014, 12:51 pm

    It blows my mind how crazy some people can get over parking spots.

    I was once at a shopping mall and less than ten minutes after I got there, we were able to look out the windows near the food court and watch a fist fight and subsequent police presence/arrests that we later found out were over A PARKING SPACE…ugh.

    Anyway, I don’t think OP did anything wrong. She was indicating her want of the space, and she was there first. I just hope there’s security footage she can take to police to nail the idiot that did this to her car.

  • startruck December 10, 2014, 1:28 pm

    I got angry reading this. iam so sorry about your car. especially after you had to shell out 500 to fix it right before. file a report with the police and hopefully they had a security camera somewhere and can help you catch this man and make him pay for his despicable deed.

  • Princess Buttercup December 10, 2014, 1:56 pm

    Anger management issues. To those, you do not respond but do pull out a camera and capture everything. Keep your distance but get his plate number and his face. I keep a camera on me at all times and have used it to scare off law breakers multiple times. Once people are confronted with the undeniable fact that their actions could come back to them, they rethink what they are doing.

  • Goldie December 10, 2014, 2:02 pm

    Agree that OP clearly did nothing wrong, the man did. I don’t understand though, how was OP supposed to take a photo of his license plate with him standing there and clearly being aggressive? I try to memorize a person’s license plate if I see that a situation might turn bad. But I’d be afraid to stand there taking a photo.

    • Syn December 10, 2014, 11:54 pm

      I actually think it would’ve defused the situation a bit, if the man had seen her do it. Then again, I’m european, and fearing violence or shootings from angry strangers isn’t really realistic where I’m from. I would’ve made it obvious I was taking his number up.

  • Marozia December 10, 2014, 3:34 pm

    Isn’t it strange how Christmas always brings out the crazies?
    You did nothing wrong, OP. You waited patiently, indicated and got the parking space.
    File your police report. Virtue has it’s own reward. That man will one day get on the wrong side of a person and he’ll be in serious trouble.

  • hakayama December 10, 2014, 6:39 pm

    Parking issues cost a former student of mine his life. I was not told much in the way of details except that Carlos was stabbed in the chest with a screwdriver. Apparently the assailant unleashed his “warrior gene” on one of the most gentle young men I’ve come across. At the time of his untimely death, he was grown up, and left a young widow and a child.
    It seems that prevention of violence/bloodshed is a high priority for the police force. On the two occasions when I called them the response was amazingly quick. The first time was a Summer evening in a “bedroom community” in the Big Apple. During an argument with others, a young man got a baseball bat out of his car trunk. THAT was my clue, and the police responded before any damage happened. The second call was when with closed windows I could hear shouting and banging noises from a house about 50 ft away. The temporary occupants moved away soon after.
    I imagine that around intense shopping times the police are quite ready to deal with situations similar to the one described by the OP.
    I would probably be too chicken to just walk away from that situation. But then, I usually tend to think in terms of the worst case scenarios. Yes, the sky IS falling. 😉

    I made the second se was ha

    • tsukinon December 12, 2014, 1:51 am

      I agree. Parking spaces aren’t worth fighting for. Period. The OP was in the right and it’s certainly not her fault that her car was vandalized. That said, the guy clearly has some sort of issue and I don’t think I would have felt comfortable leaving one of my most expensive possessions unattended when he knew where I parked.

      In OP’s situation, I would have waited until he pulled away and then parked elsewhere. That way he didn’t get the spot, but he also wouldn’t know where I parked.

  • hakayama December 10, 2014, 6:40 pm

    P.S.: Isn’t anybody going to observe that we have only ONE SIDE of the events?

    • Library Diva December 11, 2014, 10:29 am

      Yeah, maybe the guy waiting for the space was mentally ill or autistic!

      • Lydia December 11, 2014, 9:00 pm

        Mentally ill, possibly, but using Autism as a means to justify violence or rude behaviour is offensive to people on the spectrum (myself included). There is a large portion of the autism community who wouldn’t dream of behaving in such a horrible manner as this man did. Yes, some people on the spectrum can get upset if they perceive injustice has been done to them, but this goes way beyond that.

        • Jaxsue December 13, 2014, 2:31 pm

          I am fairly sure that Library Diva is being facetious. (If I’m mistaken, correct me, LD)

      • Michelle C Young December 12, 2014, 4:46 am

        I hope you’re being sarcastic, there.

        • Politrix December 13, 2014, 11:43 am

          I’m pretty sure I see Library Diva’s tongue firmly planted in her cheek 😉

  • NostalgicGal December 10, 2014, 11:23 pm

    I admit when I lived four blocks from a major mall and I would WALK to the mall during the holidays that once in awhile I would come out with a shopping bag, a handful of keys in the other hand and walk around the parking lot for a bit, and watch cars follow me hoping I’d finally locate my car. Eventually I’d work my way to the end of the lot where nobody would park unless it’s Black Friday or Christmas Eve, and head home.

    I have had several issues with someone thinking I stole a spot, or I ripped up the side of their car (one my car didn’t match any of their damage and that van wasn’t stellar to begin with and I ended up with the store calling police to rescue me from the owner of the van… the one that tried to hit me as I tried to leave to hide the oxidized and rusting damage they had… and many more). Sometimes it is just NOT worth going near the mall, and click-ship is really becoming the better thing to do!

    As I said before, OP is not in wrong and I would’ve imaged the guy and his license plate. Hope there was a CCTV that could show he did the damage.

  • Syn December 10, 2014, 11:53 pm

    Even if you had callously stolen the space (which you hadn’t), damaging another person’s property is absolutely not okay in any scenario whatsoever. I don’t care how horrible the person is, you don’t do it. I would have memorised the man’s licence plate (I’ve often done that when parking in tight but manageable spaces, in case the car next to me leaves before me and dents my ride) and later called the police. But unless the mall has detailed surveillance cameras, there’s nothing you can do. For the sake of getting it fixed on insurance, I’d still fire a police report.

  • Linsdey December 11, 2014, 10:36 am

    The only thing you done wrong was not take a photo of him cursing at you in his car and made a copy of his registration number, and threatened to forwad the details on to the police if you discovered any damage to your car upon your return.

  • ImJustSaying December 11, 2014, 5:48 pm

    You did nothing wrong and the proof is actually from the woman who allowed you ample time and sufficient blocking to get the space. She saw you waiting for her to load up and pull out and gave you the spot.
    I do this if I see someone clearly waiting for my spot and it’s possible to use my car to block others that might try to swoop in unfairly.

    Now that you know firsthand how crazy people can be i’d suggest taking out your phone and filming the guy threatening you. I think it’s a compliment to your character that you didn’t think that he was capable of such vandalism.

  • Angel December 11, 2014, 9:17 pm

    I don’t think you necessarily did anything wrong, but the way you acted you were kind of asking to get your car keyed. I probably would have just looked for another space. That people were not fighting over. Seriously. There is always a space at the end of the lot.

    In fact, the older I get the farther away I park just to avoid scenarios like this. But in your case, since the damage is done, you could try contacting mall security and see if they have surveillance on the parking lot where your car was parked. But you gotta realize that the likelihood of you actually catching the guy on video, keying your vehicle, is pretty remote. I am all for sticking up for yourself–but you left yourself wide open, here. Doesn’t make what he did right. Not in the slightest. But at the same time a parking space–just ain’t worth it!

  • Michelle C Young December 12, 2014, 3:52 am

    You did the right thing, standing up for yourself. Doing the right thing is sometimes dangerous.

    As for doing the safe thing, doing the safe thing is not always the right thing. However, people of sense will not blame you for doing the safe thing, unless that safe thing happens to be morally reprehensible, such as putting your own safety above that of a small child.

    Safe or right, though, the blame is all on this guy. I don’t suppose you got his license plate number? Perhaps security video? I hope that the police can find this guy, and with security video coverage becoming more and more common, it is more and more likely that they may.

    Good luck.

  • Michelle C Young December 12, 2014, 3:59 am

    BTW, when I say the safe thing, I meant giving in to the bully’s demands. That would have been the safest thing, all around. The only problem is that it is also feeding the gimme pigs, and they get worse and worse, so in the long run, society suffers.

    You did play it safe for your own personal safety by getting out of Dodge, and waiting until he was well away. You’re right about cars being easier to fix than bodies.

    Most bullies count on people being too fearful in the moment to consider all their options. I’d say you handled it well. You stood up to him while he was still in the car, but then made a quick get-away while you could, thus keeping yourself physically safe. You were aware of the situation, and the relative physical advantages/disadvantages, and you did a good job of handling it, choosing one set of consequences over another.

  • Jaxsue December 13, 2014, 2:35 pm

    This thread reminds me of a run-in I had with a very rude driver a few years ago. It was at Christmastime, N. New Jersey. This mall, in particular, has inadequate parking on the best of days. I had arrived rather early and so had a decent spot. As many people do, I make trips out to the car to put things in the trunk. I did this, and a car pulled up as I was arranging things in the trunk. It was a young woman, and she asked if I was leaving. I said I was not, and apologized. That upset her, and as I walked back to the mall she drove by me, way too fast for a mall parking lot, and almost clipped me! It was obviously intentional.

  • Melissa December 13, 2014, 4:51 pm

    Something similar happened to me in an upscale shopping area in The Woodlands TX, but not as vicious and without the vandalism of the car. I just politely told Mr. Potty mouth he had no right to speak to me that way, and if he did more I would call the police for help, and also to see if he even had a legal right to be in this country and treat one of its citizens in such a manner. (He had a heavy accent). No more problems!

    • Lady_P December 15, 2014, 8:36 pm

      “I would call the police for help, and also to see if he even had a legal right to be in this country and treat one of its citizens in such a manner. (He had a heavy accent). ”

      :O :O :O

      Holy interesting (not to mention offensive!) assumption, Batman!

      • Melissa December 19, 2014, 8:58 pm

        To each his own you don’t know it until you live it especially in Texas

  • Mary December 26, 2014, 12:00 am

    Your boundaries and behavior were assertive without being aggressive. You were in the right. How were you to know the guy was mentally deranged? I hope he’s caught!

  • Ginger December 28, 2014, 5:01 pm

    No, you were NOT in the wrong! You were there first. What that man did was disgusting. I hope you called the police!

  • Gee January 13, 2015, 11:58 am

    I have parked several blocks away and walked just to avoid situations like this. OP, you did nothing wrong. That guy was an entitled jerk.

  • Melanie January 17, 2015, 8:09 pm

    I don’t think the OP is wrong. However, I never wait for a spot even if someone is packing their car and likely to leave. I really hate it when people do it to me. I’m often trying to get the baby buckled in or maybe I’m changing a diaper, sometimes I just like to sit in the car and feed him before leaving. Sometimes I just want to eat some lunch and check my emails before driving off or maybe I’m just waiting for someone who is meeting me back at the car. I don’t like to feel rushed to get out of a space. Maybe these types of conflicts could be avoid if people just went for empty spaces or at least waited to get spaces where a car is already in the processes of maneuvering out.

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