If I continue this way, I’ll have to invest in a black, hooded sweatsuit and a mask, like the ones in “Scream” or “A Clockwork Orange.”
Don’t misunderstand. I want to handle the issue head-on (to wit: to catch the perps red-handed). I’ve simply been denied the opportunity. Parkers claiming two spaces are as elusive as a faint whiff of dog manure under a pile of leaves. And so, yes. I’ve become “that person.”
A handful of times, I’ve left unsavory notes under inconsiderate parkers’ windshield wipers.
Here’s my defense. One, I have no other recourse. Two, I limit my notes to chronic offenders. Three, I limit my notes to chronic offenders.
Defenses two and three coalesce, creating the necessity to keep close track of license plates.
This is how VKF 521 came to my attention.
VKF 521 arrived early Friday afternoons, when there were spaces to be had, and planted his car smack-dab in the middle of two. There his vehicle remained, unmoved, until late Monday mornings.
Given this pattern, I gleaned that VKF was a weekend visitor.
So while I was lugging my handbag, overnight bag, gym bag, briefcase, groceries, and laundry a block-and-a-half to my apartment, he was probably getting laid.
One day, lurching past VKF’s car, it was more than I could bear. I stopped, dropped my bags and groped for a scrap of paper. Surreptitiously looking left and right, I scrawled, “Park more considerately!!” and tucked the note securely under his windshield wiper. This was a trial; my wrist was still numb from the weight of a cat litter bag. But I wanted to be proactive — even if it was in a low-down, sneaky way.
As I left the scene of my crime, pride and shame asserted themselves in equal measure. I’d done a dirty job, one calling for misguided assertiveness skills, a prickly disposition, and a ready scrap of paper.
However I chose to feel about it, I’d been perfect for the job.
I wonder if Macy’s sells cute hoods and masks.The Parking Chronicles II |
So. I left a note under VKF 521’s windshield wiper imploring him to park more considerately. I didn’t use profanity, but nor did I add a smiley face or cheery “Thanks so much!” at the bottom. I was through with VKF’s nonsense, and if my large, bold print offended him, I refused to care. Having never given me the chance to confront him directly, he’d brought this ugliness on himself.
I had yet to admit to anyone that I’d left notes on windshields, though. The act sounded cowardly and petty, reflecting an embarrassing lack of character. Yet for some reason, I had a sudden need to confess.
“I. . . uh. . . just did something,” I told my boyfriend, Jake, over the phone.
“Oh? What did you do?” the implicit “now” voluble to my ear.
“Well, that asshole VKF was taking up two spots. Again.” I paused. “So I left him a note.”
“Really.” Jake laughed. “Did anyone see you?”
“Are you kidding? I gave myself whiplash making sure the coast was clear.”
“Because,” Jake continued, “if this becomes a habit, you’ll have to invest in a wardrobe of heavy black sweatsuits.”
“Fuck you,” I said. “And FYI, I’m already on it.”
“Of course you are.” I heard Jake roll his eyes. “So where did you leave the note?”
“Under his windshield wiper. Why?”
“It’s supposed to snow tonight.”
“They say it’s going to snow.”
I turned toward the window. The steel gray sky portended near-certain precipitation.
“Fuck,” I said. “My note will never survive the snow.”
“You know what you should do?” Jake asked. “You should write up a bunch of notes like VKF’s and have them laminated.”
I laughed. “Not a bad thought.” Then, “Listen, I think I’m gonna hang up. I want to go watch the sky.”
As the first snowflakes fell, I considered lamination. A clever idea, but it smacked of negativity. There were a handful of courteous parkers in the neighborhood. To keep things balanced, I’d have to write up a second set of cards lauding their consideration. “Swell job, Mary!” “Keep up the good work, Stan!” and “Mike, your parking skills rock!”
On the up side, notes of recognition would boost good parkers’ self-esteem. Bad parkers would learn from their example, uniting discordant factions of the parking community. Tempers would ease, good-will would prevail. Smiles would replace frowns.
On the down side, it would be a real pain in the ass. Writing the notes, proofreading them for spelling and grammar, keeping a log of people’s parking habits: It was a lot to ask of someone who could barely keep up with her laundry.
This was going to require some thought.The Duck Man | The Parking Chronicles I →
My sister’s love of God’s creatures has always burned steadfast and pure. No matter its position on the food chain, if it breathes and isn’t human, Laura needs to pet, coo at, and – she’ll always find some way – to assist it.
Laura was the child who’d find an inchworm on the driveway, transport it to a dappled spot in the backyard, position it on the plumpest blade of grass she could find, and then sit with it for a few hours to make sure that it adjusted. When she got a kitten, she rocked, diapered and sang to him; gave him bottles of milk he didn’t want or need. Once she even tried to rescue a dog from its own backyard.
The minute Laura turned thirteen, she joined an animal service organization. She brought home litters of puppies, kittens, and baby raccoons, which she nursed with eyedroppers every four hours, around the clock. No matter how sleep deprived, she never lost patience or complained.
When Laura got older, her passion for animals was closely rivaled by her attraction to miserable relationships.
At the age of twenty, Laura attached herself to Glen, a boy three years her junior who was failing out of high school. The span of that union found Laura railing inexhaustibly about Glen’s emotional immaturity and reluctance to commit. To Laura’s vexation, when she wanted to spend quality time with him, or they broke up (again), he often hid from her at the county park, where he enjoyed smoking cigarettes with his friends.
Laura spent many an afternoon on the hunt for her missing beau.
One day, after a particularly intense argument, Laura was on such a trajectory. Eyes blurred with tears, she looped around the park, peering into shrubbery, craning her neck to look behind trees. So intent was she on her mission, she failed to notice her speed, or the flock of ducks in her path.
As Laura came upon the ducks they scattered, running and flying in every direction. One, however, couldn’t gather enough momentum. (Slow metabolism? Leg cramp? There’s no telling.) When Laura looked back at the road, she saw frantic wing-flapping right before her bumper.
Panicked, she slammed on the brakes.
It was too late. There was a thud, then a flurry of feathers.
Laura’s cries now escalated to sobs. She’d plowed over a defenseless duck! One whose only sin was being at the wrong pond at the wrong time.
Thoughts of Glen were forgotten. Whatever else happened, she must save her victim.
Laura yanked on the emergency brake and bolted from the car.
The duck now had a broad-framed, hysterical woman lurching after him. Fearing for what little remained of his safety, he tried to flee. But he was no match for my sister. Laura closed in and grabbed him by the leg. The duck resisted, flapping and squawking to the best of his ability. No soothing noises would calm him. Still, Laura managed to maintain her grip. She side-stepped to the car, opened the door with her left hand, and wrestled the duck inside.
As Laura slid behind the wheel, she imagined poster-sized pictures of herself, a big red X across her face, the caption reading, “Zero Tolerance: Stop Duck Maiming Today.” She looked back at the duck, who was now trembling in the far corner of the back seat. And then it hit her: She had no idea what to do next. The animal hospital treating wildlife was four towns away, and she couldn’t afford their services anyway.
Then Laura had an idea.
She drove directly to the police station.
When she arrived, Laura marched into the building. Approaching the first officer she saw, she said in a rush, “My boyfriend was being a jerk and he broke up with me and I was searching for him in the park and I hit a duck by accident and now it’s in my car and I don’t know what to. . .”
“Okay,” the officer cut in. “You have a wounded duck?”
“Here’s what you do.” The officer paused, placed a hand on Laura’s shoulder. Then he said, “Take him to The Duck Man.”
“The Duck Man?”
“Yes. The Duck Man.”
The officer explained that there was a man in town who cared specifically for sickly and wayward ducks. Laura doubted the man was credentialed, but if he was good enough for the police, he was good enough for her.
Fifteen minutes later, Laura pulled up to a little house set far off the road. In its front yard was a heavily populated duck pond. She walked onto the front porch and rang the bell. No answer. She rang again. A moment later, a large, bearded man wearing Levi’s and a white tee-shirt came to the door.
“Are you The Duck Man?” Laura asked.
The man looked at her. “I have a title now, do I?” he asked. Then, “Well, okay. Let’s have a look at the bird.”
Laura led The Duck Man to her car. The duck, still subdued, was where she had left him. The Duck Man leaned over, pulled him out gently and gave him a look-over. “He’s in pretty rough shape, you know.”
“I know,” Laura said, fighting back tears. “Do you think you can help him?”
“I’ll do my best.”
Laura thanked The Duck Man, said a polite thank you and headed for home, where she could become hysterical in private.
The next day, Laura returned to check on the duck.
The Duck Man said nothing, just shook his head sadly.
Morose, Laura returned to her car.
It occurred to Laura that the emotions wrought by the duck’s death felt similar to her love for Glen, and all of her past boyfriends. The anguish, longing, and deprivation of what should be. But there was one difference. Glen was alive. And as long as he was breathing, she could remake him into the attentive, supportive partner that she desired.
Now if only she could find him.The Red Shoes | The Parking Chronicles II →