Monday, August 8, 2011

Math Lessons in Etiquette: A Rant

Here's a math problem for you. I needed to make a little pre-work run into Target today, but first had to run by the gas station. I was almost on empty, and knew this, so I left home in plenty of time to take care of both errands. 

The gas station I chose was directly across the street from Target, with no other station within a feasible distance. I pulled in, and realized that the only open set of pumps was out of order, with the exception of the diesel nozzle. Every other space was taken, so I would need to wait. That's fine. That's not a big deal. That happens.

As I sat in the car, I looked around at the six vehicles in pump spaces, and started to notice something disturbing. While a little old lady washed the windows of her car, there was only one other person actively using a pump--an idiot on his cell phone. Because we all want to blow up, apparently. The other cars were either empty, or had someone in the passenger seat. That's four (4) cars, just sitting there (you guys still paying attention?). Of course, I thought, these people may have gone in the shop to pay before pumping. I'm one for giving the benefit of the doubt.

So there I sat. Granny kept on washing her windows. Cell phone guy went inside, but left his car. No one else moved...for several minutes. Finally, one lady came out of the shop with a bag, and got into her van. As she drove away, I pulled into the spot...and realized that the pump was not only out of order, but didn't even have a nozzle! She had never even used the pump! It had only been a parking spot to her! (By the way, I think I should mention that this is a large convenience store, with a fairly decent sized parking lot. It's not like she couldn't have parked in a real spot. In fact, she'd have been closer to the door if she had.)

So, I pull back out of the pump area, and resume sitting. Granny begins washing the entire exterior of her car with the squeegee. No one else moves. I just sit and wait...for several more minutes. Another van comes in and pulls up to the non-existent pump. They proceed to sit in their vehicle and gab on the phone. 

Eventually, Granny decides that her car is clean enough, and decides to move, and I start to move into position to get into the space. As Granny gets in her car, an Air-Conditioning truck pulls into the parking lot. He sees me, but proceeds to try to beat me to the space. Thankfully, upon seeing me hit the brakes to keep from hitting him, and my extremely exaggerated sigh, he backed off and let me into the spot. He then went around to the set of out of order pumps and proceeded to use the working diesel nozzle (so he didn't even need the space I was trying to get). One of the other drivers came out of the store, got in their car, and left. They had not been pre-paying. The phone-gabbing van driver got out of her vehicle and noticed the non-existent nozzle, got irritated, and moved around to the newly vacated space. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I realized I'd spent almost fifteen minutes trying to put gas in my car. The Target run never happened. 

Question: How many cars never moved in the fifteen minutes I spent at the gas station?*

The thing is, this is not a novelty. I can't tell you how many times I have been blocked into a space--recently!--by a car that doesn't realize that all those little lined-off areas are specifically for putting your car in when you need to sit still and wait for someone or something. You don't have to wait in the street! Honestly, the only reasons for needing to idle in the street while you wait for your party, because you need to get out of the parking lot so quickly that you don't have time to even pull out of a spot (and I don't mean far away, back of the lot spots. We're talking right by the door spaces) are leaving a robbery (which I do not advise. Stealing is bad) or if one of your car's future passengers is actively in labor. That's it. Finito.

I saw this today, and while I don't see it being any less rude than the driver of the car you put it on, I can see its purpose. Now you can not only leave an anonymous "you park like a moron" note on someone's car, but they can reply back online. Most of the time, the notes and replies are not something I'd feel comfortable reproducing here, but after reading through them, I can totally understand why the notes were left. $4.95, niceparkingdude.com. 

*Answer: Three. Half of the cars that were there when I arrived. Half. Seriously. That's three people who needed the above citations. Maybe I should pick up a pack of those notes...

 



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