Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Parking Lot Rage

By Annette Dashofy

We’ve all heard the tales of “road rage” on the news. Around my area, the problem seems to be “parking lot rage.”

Last week, I witnessed what I was sure was about to turn into an item on the six o’clock news. My mom and I were loading up our trunk with the fruits of our shopping labors in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Two slots away, a vehicle was leaving. A lady in an old beater car sat with her turn signal on, waiting directly behind me. As the exiting vehicle backed out, a huge, shiny white SUV whipped into the slot.

The lady in the beater car went apoplectic. She started screaming to a guy walking by: “DID YOU SEE THAT? I WAS WAITING HERE WITH MY TURN SIGNAL ON! HOW RUDE!”

I kept my head down. You always hear about innocent bystanders getting caught in the crossfire.

Then the driver of the SUV climbed out. She was dressed more for Nordstrom’s than for Wal-Mart and wore perfectly coiffed blonde hair.

The lady in the beater looked…well…like me. And she turned her verbal barrage on the source of her aggravation. Loudly. She informed the blonde in the SUV that she had been waiting for the spot with her turn signal on.

Now, I didn’t really expect the SUV woman to get back in her car and move. In a perfect world, maybe. But a little contrition might have gone far. Instead, she thrust out her chest, hoisted her chin into the air and proclaimed: “Well, that’s not my problem.”

The exasperated lady in the beater repeated her complaint, this time with arm gestures.

To which, the blonde responded: “I guess that’s just your tough luck then, isn’t it?” And she marched into Wal-Mart leaving the lady in the beater car stammering and sputtering.

By now, I felt the beater car lady’s frustration. I offered her my spot since we were leaving, but she drove off without hearing me over her own rage.

I didn’t hear any news stories about homicide at the Wal-Mart that night. Nor did I hear about slashed tires. Unlike during the grand opening of the nearby Tanger Outlet stores last year when people “stealing” parking spaces sparked a rash of parking lot rage that actually resulted in police involvement and arrests.

Personally, I’m thinking that white SUV was prime material for a good keying. Better yet, letting the air out of the tires. Two tires. Not one. Few people carry two spares. If the SUV blonde was in such a hurry, making her wait for a tow truck seems like an appropriate and karmic payback.

What might you have done in such a situation? Have you ever accidently taken a spot without realizing someone else was waiting for it? Or are you willing to confess to intentionally resorting to the blonde SUV woman’s tactics? Have you ever been the victim of a parking space snatching? And how did you respond?

And the big question to all murder mystery writers: How do you WISH you’d responded?

17 comments:

Gina said...

Annette -
In real life, I'd probably shrug it off, secure in the knowledge that someday, someway, that woman is going to die. Or I might yell at her. What I'd really like to do, though, is ram her car like Evelyn (Kathy Bates) did in a similar situation in Fried Green Tomatoes. You know the scene I mean? For those who haven't seen the film, Evelyn has been waiting for a space but two snippy young women zoom their car into it.
Evelyn: Hey! I was waiting for that spot.
Girl#1 (dismissively, while walking away): Face it, lady, we're younger and faster.
Evelyn slams her car into their car several times, causing a lot of damage.
Evelyn: Face it, girls, I'm older and I have more insurance.

Annette said...

Thank you, Gina! That is exactly the scene I was thinking of during this whole exchange. I think it's one of my all time favorite movie moments!

Unfortunately, in this case the little beater car wouldn't have put a dent in the monster SUV let alone budge it.

Tory said...

I LOVE that scene! Yes, it's one of my favorite movie scenes ever.

I saw some show where they had people repeat their favorite movies lines of all time. Like, "Plastics" from "The Graduate." The Fried Green Tomatoes parking lot scene would be one of mine.

My other favorite is from Casablanca, when Bogart and the French cop are introducing themselves:

French Cop, "Why did you come to Casablanca?"
Bogart, "Because of the waters."
French Cop, "But, Casablanca has no waters! It's in the desert."
Bogart, "I was misinformed."

Joyce said...

In real life, I'd shrug it off too, after bitching about it for hours to anyone who'd listen to me. That's one reason why I usually park as far away from everyone else as I can. No one wants those spots.

In fiction, I'd get a baseball bat out of my trunk and do some serious damage to that SUV. The problem with that is security cameras. No one would get away with it.

A better tactic would be to follow SUV lady into the store and sneak an item into her pocket or purse and then tell store security she was shoplifting.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

When I'm the one waiting, I'm more observant of idiots who are willing to snatch it out from under me. I look at it as a challenge, survival of the fittest, predators competing for food. That's when I'm waiting and I see a game is on. If I let someone snatch it from me, well then, my bad.

On the other hand, if someone else is waiting, I'm civilized enough to yield.

I have backed out of a spot after realizing I just pulled into a spot that was "CLAIMED" already, and waved, red-faced as I passed them.

Annette said...

Joyce, I did take the security cameras into account, but never thought about setting her up for a shoplifting arrest. Good one.

Will, it does turn into sport at times, doesn't it.

I guess I shouldn't be at all surprised about such flagrant rudeness and lack of fairplay. Just look at the news headlines these days.

Sara said...

Awesome food for thought.

No way would I purposely take a parking space from an old lady, but I've found that many times the old ladies are the rudest people out there at Walmart.

And I think I've lowered my expectations for parking lot civility so I won't get so upset.

I'm thinking some chewing gum under her door handles? Gross but not permanent.
And depending on how frisky I was feeling, if I was an observer of the exchange, I would've liked to speak up in the old lady's defense with some kind of smartass insult for the upppity lady. I always think of those comments a minute too late though...

Fun post, Annette!

Anonymous said...

It's really too bad about the loss of civility in this country. And what's up with SUV drivers, anyway? It seems they are much more likely to drive as if they own the road and deserve more than everyone else. I don't get that one.

My apologies to any SUV drivers who read this blog who don't act like asses when you drive. You're in the minority, including my own SUV-driving daughter.

Donnell said...

I like Gina's response, Annette, I'm a total pacifist in real life and prefer to take out my frustrations in my writing. I'll also let you in on a secret. I've seen what letting one's emotions can do, e.g. keying and destruction of public and personal property. As a victims' advocate, I've learned losing control hurts the one who's doing the keying. That Carrie Underwood song about destroying her boy friend's truck while he's in a bar with another woman, it drives me crazy.

I've seen those types of scenes happen in real life and they are never never positive.

So I know what I would do. I'd shrug it off and hope for Karma.

Thanks for the insightful post.

lisa curry said...

I, too, was thinking of Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes while reading this! I don't think I've ever stolen a parking place from someone -- at least not that I was aware of. I am the sort of person who would rather hike 6 miles from the far end of the mall parking lot than circle around hunting a close space like a vulture, so there's never much competition for those remote spots. I feel bad for the old lady -- shame on the blonde.

On a semi-tangent, even though this makes it obvious that there are plenty of jerks out there in the world, I have had my faith in humanity and the kindness of strangers restored, because thanks to several strangers who saw our flyer, kept their eyes open and bothered to call us, we found our lost dog last night! I am so happy and grateful. :-)

Gina said...

Lisa -
I'm glad you got your dog back.
My magic word is "festedls" - the compulsion to confess to frivolous crimes?

Joyce said...

Lisa, I'm so glad you got your dog back! I kept going back to your post to see if there were any updates.

Annette said...

Lisa, thanks for sharing your wonderful news. Has Brandy recovered from the trauma of her bath?

Donnell, I, too, do all my venting in my writing. I'm really good at thinking up all sorts of nasty methods of revenge, but hardly ever follow through. EXCEPT in print.

And believing in Karma is quite satisfying, too.

Donnell said...

Annette, I've learned that about you. I hope I never steal you parking space. I will be your next victim in one of your outstanding novels. Oy!

Here's to peace in the world and murder and mayhem in our writing!

jwhit said...

I love how by the end of the comments the woman waiting had become 'old'. How long was she waiting? LOL

I had a parking lot meltdown once when a fool woman drove right into me as she was coming down one of the rows and I was driving in the outer lane to leave the place, not parked. My car was less than a month old! We were only going about 10kph and she STILL managed to hit me! Was she blind????

I insisted on getting her contact details and said I'd call and speak to her husband about what she'd done. Being totally honked off at her stupidity, I wanted to put the fear of god in her. She was that type and would most likely have had a dominant husband, being of an ethnic type that would.

In actuality, it wasn't a bad bump and I didn't even get it examined. But it was just the fact that it was a brand new car and this was the first real attack on it.

[can feel my blood pressure going up again just writing this! :-)]

Annette said...

Yes, I wondered where the "old" came from, too. Especially since I think I just said the woman in the beater car looked like me!

Hmmm...

I meant she was in sweats and no make-up. Not old!!!

Anonymous said...

You need a bottle of oil, flipped upside down on a paper plate. Place the paper plate and oil can on top of the offending car...right in the middle of the roof, then slip the paper plate out leaving the bottle of oil on the roof. When the owner returns and sees the oil bottle, then removes it.....gush!!!!