Parking Lot Pariah

Accidental parking space theft leads to heated words at Wegmans.

This one goes out to the four people who recently made me cry in the parking lot. My story is a reminder that sometimes people genuinely make mistakes and that the rotten things you say to them can make them feel like dirt for no reason at all.

While my four fellow shoppers probably went home delighted to tell their story of how they really told off the stupid woman (that would be me) who “stole” someone’s parking space at Wegmans on a hectic Sunday afternoon, I drove home sobbing.

Here’s what happened: Like many other shoppers on the Sunday before Easter, I spent 40 minutes driving around the parking lot trying to find a parking space, any parking space. It could be way past or down by , I didn’t care. I just needed to go in and get my weekly grocery shopping over and done with. I finally had enough circling and was about to give up the hunt and come back later or go somewhere else, when there it was: A space that was just being vacated. My timing was finally perfect – I’m not one of those shoppers who sits and stalks while you unload your giant cart; I think that’s rude and pushy. I’d rather slowly troll for a space that opens up naturally.

I thought that is what I had found, but as soon as I pulled in, I heard the telltale loud honk from a Honda telling me just how mistaken I was in my assumption. It turned out another woman had been stalking that space for five minutes, and I had no idea. I simply didn’t see her (she was waiting around the corner, so how could I have?) So she pulled up behind me and sat there for a moment fuming, and I sat there paralyzed, not knowing what to do. I didn’t leave my car because parking lot confrontations just aren’t my style (thankfully, the kids weren’t with me when this all went down). She left and I got out of my car, only to be verbally accosted by a couple loading their car and another woman as soon as I got out. I tried to explain that I hadn’t seen anyone waiting, that I wouldn’t have taken the space if I had, and I was promptly accused of driving too fast (impossible in the lot on this day) and of having done a “rotten” thing.

Well, they won. I got in my car and started to head back home, too upset to shop. Just then, the person who was also aiming for “my” space walked by (guess she had luck finding another space nearby) and glared at me as I was backing out. I rolled down my window to apologize and she shouted “No! Never mind!” and stomped into With that, I went back home, crying the whole way. It was an honest mistake, and not the end of the world, but I’m just not used to being yelled at by four people in quick succession in grocery store parking lots.

I’m not sure what the point of me telling you this is, other than just to remind us all (myself included) that no one is perfect, that we all make mistakes, and if you are the victim of one of these minor mishaps – i.e. inadvertent parking space theft – life will go on. And more likely than not, you will one day make a similar error and find yourself on the receiving end of someone else’s hot temper. Is it too much to ask that we all take a deep breath and treat each other with a little more kindness, to give each other the benefit of the doubt?

Joel April 03, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Wow, M. Sullivan, didn't know I was holding you up when I was backing into my space. Figure it was better than backing up coming out - and safer too. I think the problem is with people being impatient. We all want the same thing - to be able to park and go in quickly - but where there is an obvious higher demand than supply of spaces, something's gotta give. Just put it in perspective. An extra 15-30 seconds out of your life won't ruin the rest of your day unless you let it.
Kathleen Walther April 03, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Amy, it was probably insensitive and unempathetic people like Beth who caused you such grief the other day. Maybe she's got so much backbone that she's immune to feelings.
M. Sullivan April 03, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Joel, it takes a lot longer to maneuver and back into a space than to back out of one. Meanwhile, others must sit and wait while you do this, just so you can have the convenience of just pulling straight out when you leave.
A. Lee April 03, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Just an FYI if you go to Wegmans any day of the week after 8 PM you can get a good parking space and the store is virtually empty. Sundays are the worst day of the week. Lunch time Monday through Friday are also bad if you need to run in and out quickly.
Dadof2 April 04, 2012 at 09:43 PM
I'm totally with you, Joel. I tend to prefer to back into spaces. And, as you said, the extra few seconds shouldn't be an issue for most people. Then again, I consider myself a very skilled driver (though, I'm not proud to admit that I've received my share of speeding tickets). There are, however, a few issues I have with drivers: 1) parking in handicapped spots without handicapped plates/plaque on the visor, 2) parking (temporarily or not) against a yellow or red curb to run into the cleaners or ATM (on more than one occasion I've seen off-duty police to this in Bel Air, and 3) smokers who choose not to have an ash-tray and find it OK to throw their cigarette/cigar butt out the window (or worse, emptying their ash-tray on the street or median strip while sitting at a red light).


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