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Not So Humble Opinion: May 15, 2012

Get The Word Out: Parking In Parking Lots Is Cool

I’m aware that addressing any group as “those people” sounds judgmental, but in this instance I don’t think I can get around it: I just don’t get those people who park in the fire lane in front of Starbucks, or a similar establishment, presumably because they’ll “just be in there for a minute.”

We all know that most customers of Starbucks and its ilk are only in there briefly to pick up a drink, so the “just a minute” excuse can be unilaterally ignored. These people park in the fire lane because they seem to think, for some reason, that parking in the lot and walking to the store is something only other people should have to take the time and energy to do.

Some of these people may think their time is very important, and for all I know, perhaps it is; perhaps the fire-lane loiterers are all secret agents on missions of national security, and they simply don’t have the time to park properly when there are terrorists to catch and missile codes to decrypt. Or, maybe they have more mundane commitments that leave them pressed for time. I’m not saying their time isn’t important, just probably not as important as they seem to think it is.

I’d like to appeal to these people’s sense of fair play and civic responsibility to get this behavior to stop, but that usually doesn’t work. No, instead I’m thinking of starting some fires.

Just imagine: a coffee shop goes up in flames, only there’s a huge silver minivan taking up the entire fire lane, the driver perhaps running late for emergency brain surgery or a Pilates class. The firetruck can’t get in front of the building in time, leading one of the firemen to fall to his knees in despair. “No! If only we could have parked in front of the building, we could have saved that basket of kittens! But because of that illegally parked vehicle, now it’s too late!”

Why is there a basket of kittens in a coffee shop? I don’t know, it’s my disjointed revenge fantasy—get your own. End of delusional segment.

Okay, so obviously I’m not really going to start any fires: not only would I rather not be writing this column from prison, but I’m sufficiently scared of fire to the point where lighting a Hanukkah menorah is a little too flame-centric for me. That’s why, instead of trying to use negative reinforcement, I’m going to harness my knowledge of pop psychology and present something positive. I hereby announce the kickoff of my new campaign, “Parking in Parking Lots is Cool.”

Why is parking in the parking lot so cool? Well, first of all, when you park your car in the lot meant for cars, not only are you proving that you can follow directions with the best of them, but you’re also showing that you have the gravitas to take up a whole parking space with no hesitation.

When you park in the lot, you’re cool because no one knows how long you’re going to be there—unlike those people who park in the fire lane, who announce to the world that they’re “just running in for a second, I promise I’ll be quick!,” we have no idea how long you’re staying. You might be just running in for coffee, or you might linger over a leisurely lunch, perhaps with your fellow secret agents, discussing Top Secret documents: we just don’t know. You’re presence is volatile, enigmatic, exciting: sexy, even.

Just imagine yourself, strolling leisurely from your car to the sidewalk, exuding confidence from every pore. Do you think you create the same effect when you park somewhere illegally, running around like a chicken with your head cut off in sheer terror of being spotted by a police officer? Hardly.

Since the funding available for this new awareness program is approximately zero dollars, any support you could offer would be appreciated. See someone parked in the fire lane? Let them know that Parking in Parking Lots is just so Cool. See someone parked properly? Smile, give them a high five, and let them know their 30-second sacrifice in the name of public safety and the rule of law has not gone unappreciated. If all goes well, this summer may see the launch of my second public awareness campaign, Your Blinker Is There For A Reason.