The Parking Chronicles VI: A Variation

Posted March 13th, 2011 by June O'Hara and filed in The Parking Chronicles

10183612-6-floor-on-elevator-buttonsFirst, let me say that I’m a neurotic person of Irish and German descent. Thus, as one might predict, I’m highly averse to intrusions into my personal space zone.

Last week my zone was violated in a deplorable incident involving my next door neighbor, E6 (a.k.a. “The Mouth”) and her family.

I wage perpetual, if silent, protests against several of E6’s behaviors. Allowing her door to slam behind her at all hours, the “Boom!” a concussive blast that shakes the building to its core. Constantly screaming “FUCK!” — especially in the presence of her autistic child. But most of all, I resent the fierceness with which she guards her huge handicapped parking space.

As previously noted, despite having a car-length, unoccupied space behind her, E6 parks at the tippy-top of hers. This leaves no room for anyone to squeeze into a tight spot in front of her, lest she call the police complaining someone’s parked half an inch over her line.

This bugs me.

A lot.

So. Last week I was entering my building through the back door. Hearing people walk through the front entrance, I called, “Should I hold the elevator for you?”

No response.

Again: “Should I hold the elevator?”

Nothing.

Slightly irritated, I pulled the gate and got on.

Just as I went to push the button, E6, her husband, and two children rounded the corner, dragging huge bags of laundry behind them.

They’d ignored my question, but felt no compunction about piling into the elevator after me.

By the time three of them got on, we were smooshed in like a hundred marshmallows shoved into a small plastic sandwich bag.

Viewing the conditions, E6’s husband said, “I’ll take the next trip up.”

“Okay,” I answered.

“No!” The Mouth barked. “There’s room for you! Shove over, kids.”

The kids, doing what little they could, sucked in their stomachs. The husband, toting a gigantic bag of laundry, squeezed through the gate.

Now I was bodily pinned into the corner of the elevator.

Respiration was no longer an option.

A fireball of rage swelled in my stomach, shooting sparks throughout my neural pathways.

As the elevator began its ascent, here were a few of my thoughts:

If I call these people classless, inconsiderate low-lifes right now, do they have enough room to assault me? Because I know The Mouth would. And I’m too cramped to defend myself.

If human combustion is a real phenomenon, I’m at risk. However, if I go up in flames, so will E6.

But wait! I’m not the asshole here. Do I really want to make that kind of sacrifice?

No, I conclude.

Jesus Christ, do these people have to breathe through their mouths? Because, unless I happen to be the person I’m fucking, I don’t want to smell your breath.

Stop. Fucking. Breathing.

I don’t like to say I hate anyone, but. . .I think I hate these people.

My plan of killing them with kindness?

It’s not working out.

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The Parking Chronicles IV

Posted September 12th, 2011 by June O'Hara and filed in The Parking Chronicles

You know how the quote, “Give me your tired, your poor?” The mayor of my town must have posed a similar request. Handicap spaces devour half of my block. The few of us able to walk, talk, and breathe without ventilators spend our weary lives in hiking boots, trudging up and down the hill from our cars to our apartments and back.

Early on, I admit, I did resent a handicapped resident from my building. A grand space Tom had, but he was never home to enjoy it. I spent nights looping endlessly around the block, envying his privilege. “Where,” I beseeched the heavens, “could he go all the time? He’s handicapped!”

Was I jealous of Tom’s social life? Perhaps.

But the point remained.

I don’t take issue with people’s handicaps. Truly. Disabilities manifest in many forms, many indiscernible to the eye. I, for example, am severely technologically disabled. So when the new handicapped guy in my building, Smiley, dug out his SUV with aplomb as I faltered under the weight of my third shovelful of snow, I reminded myself: You’re the woman who’s intimidated by her remote control. Who took twenty minutes to program her mother’s microwave.

You, my dear, are in no position to challenge anyone else’s liabilities.

I have no idea what Smiley’s personal challenges are, but this much I can say: His people skills could use a polish.

“Hey,” Smiley growled, approaching me as I walked to my car. He is short and squat; his crew cut lends him the look of a pineapple. “Maybe you got a problem with me. I dunno. But you’re over the line of my spot. I don’ wanna start trouble, but I got my camera here. I could take a picture and bring it to the police. They’d fine you $200.00 for parking in a handicap zone.”

I turned and looked at my car. My rear bumper was encroaching on Smiley’s spot by an eighth of an inch. As usual, he’d pulled his SUV up to the tippy-top of his space.

“I have no problem with you!” I stammered. “I just try to leave people up the hill as much room as I can. Your spot is so big. . .” Big enough to fit a yacht, I stopped myself from saying. “You have half a car’s length open behind you.”

“Listen,” Smiley said. “I got no problem with you. But if this happens again, I’ll call the cops. They know me; they’ll slap you with a $200 fine. Don’t you doubt it.”

Doubt it? I’d be an idiot. The cops in my town thrive on writing tickets.

“Okay,” I said. “I don’t get it, but okay.”

This scenario plays itself out frequently between Smiley and other tenants. I know this because I’ve eavesdropped on every confrontation possible, from every conceivable vantage point.

The upshot is, we’ve all started giving Smiley a wide berth.

These days, he claims enough space to accommodate two yachts.

Last week the situation developed in an unforeseeable manner.

As I was walking out of the building, Smiley pulled up to discover the mailman parked a foot over his line. “But I have all these packages to carry,” the mailman was saying. “If you would just move back a foot. . .”

I couldn’t stop myself. “I know I should stay out of this,” I said, my tone mild, “but Smiley, why are you giving him a hard time? He’s not blocking you in or anything.”

The mailman, smiling broadly, nodded with vigor.

“I mean, if you just backed up a tiny bit. . .”

“Why should I have to back up?” Smiley asked. “It’s my spot!”

“I know,” I said. “But. . .”

“I’m gonna show you something,” Smiley said. He got into his SUV and backed up a foot or two. There was still a good bit of empty space behind him. “Now,” he said to the mailman, “you try to get out of there.”

The mailman got in his truck, started the engine. When he released the brake, it rolled perilously back. He cut the wheel hard, hit the gas and lurched forward, nearly hitting the car in front of him. He had less room in front of him as I’d thought. And from the way his truck was jolting, it was far more difficult to maneuver I had realized.

Cringing, I thought, this could end badly.

After many excruciating moments, the mailman finally managed to squeeze out of the space without inflicting damage. Still, Smiley was vindicated. “See how close he came?” he exclaimed. “He coulda hit two cars, that guy’s and mine. That’s why I won’t move back for anyone.”

I could have pointed out that if Smiley had parked in the middle of his spot from the beginning, the situation would have been averted. That, owing to him, the mailman will likely need a disc replacement before he turns fifty. Or that he himself bears resemblance to a pineapple.

But, I realized, nothing I said would matter.

I will never win.

“Listen,” I said. “I’m sorry I interfered. That was none of my business. I promise it won’t happen again.”

Grinning, Smiley puffed out his chest.

“Have a good day,” I told him.

I turned, took a deep breath and strode toward my car.

I’d interfered, unjustifiably, but I hadn’t told Smiley off.

That had to count for something.

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The Parking Chronicles III

Posted July 30th, 2011 by June O'Hara and filed in The Parking Chronicles

VKF got off easy. By the next morning, my bold but unlaminated note regarding his obnoxious parking was buried under a foot of heavy, wet snow. Soon after he disappeared into the ether, increasing both my parking opportunities and questions about the viability of long-term romantic relationships.

If two people with optimum parking opportunities couldn’t make it work, what hope was there for me?

Approaching my car one bright Saturday morning, I remembered I’d been gifted the most coveted spot on the block. Absent were the jagged inhalations and incipient blisters that marked my frequent treks to spaces atop the hill. That morning I smiled, slid blithely behind the wheel, and eased my way to a Mega Shoe outlet sale at Marshall’s.

To my delight, when I returned home, the prime spot was still available.

How long was I gone? I’m not sure, but it was nighttime when I returned. Which confirms that: A) shoe shopping is best left to those sounder of mind, and B) against a dark sky, and partly obscured by a tree, a sign was likely to go unnoticed.

I admit, two new pairs of kitten heels shouldn’t distract one from the laws of the land, even in the dark. Still, how many people pull up to their homes or apartments and check to make sure their parking spot is still legal?

The next day I discovered the ticket: Illegally parked in a handicapped zone. $200 fine. Mandatory court appearance. While I was combing Marshall’s for hot, bargain shoes, a handicapped woman had been moving into apartment 2B. As the sun sunk below the horizon, the sign marking her space had been planted.

I called my mother to rant and whine. Then I marched to City Hall. I detailed my plight to a woman in zoning, who had clearly never had a sign switched on her when she blinked. Bland of expression and tone, she informed me that my fate was sealed. I was advised to appear in court as directed, a check for $236 ($36 court fee) in hand. I muttered “Have a good day,” turned on my heel, and stormed back to my apartment.

Two days later, I regaled the building super with my tale. “That’s too bad,” he said. “Mrs. Murphy would gladly have written you a note saying you didn’t inconvenience her. Unfortunately, she died last night.”

So. Mrs. Murphy had lived in the building just long enough to leave me with a $236 fine and a mandatory stint before the most abrasive judge in town. Worse, she had been pleasant and kind.

Try as I might, I couldn’t even hate her.

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