July 12, 2014


I drove the giant, white, twelve-seater van into the grocery store parking lot the other day and pulled into a spot near the front of the store.  It was tight.  The car to my right had failed to line up her car with the yellow stripes.  The car hung over the stripe and was therefore very close to the passenger side of my van.  The three kids that were with me filed out of the side door.  That's when I heard it.  A voice.  A woman was calling to me as she approached from the store with a few shopping bags in her hands.  "I don't think I can fit in there."  Seriously.  She parked poorly, so I needed to move?  I backed up the van, but then she was trying to back up out of her spot.  My kids crossed the parking lot themselves.  I was jockeying around the lot to satisfy Ms. Clueless.  The nerve!  I ended up driving around the lot and returning to the same spot once she drove off.  I hopped out of my car - hopping mad.  Did this woman even get that she was in err?

I saw my window of opportunity.  She was stopped in front of the store while someone pushed a grocery cart in front of her sedan.  Her windows were down.  I tried to jog up so I could have a few words with her.  Fearing she was about to drive off into the sunset and be none the wiser, I chose to call out to her.  "Next time park between the lines!!!  Other people shouldn't have to move for you!!!"

Mini was mortified.  Accustomed to my rants within the gouged, marked up walls of our 'oh-look-a-bomb-must-have-recently-detonated' home, Mini quickly reminded me that we were in public.  "Well aware that we are in public, Mini.  I'm delivering a public service message, so that no one else will need to accommodate this nutty lady's parking issues," I quipped.  Grocery shopping is rarely my favorite activity, but I was there to pick up a few things with a few children in attendance.  Never a good mix.  My kids visit grocery stores infrequently now that they are school age.  I am smart enough to shop without them.  Without a regular attendance at the grocery store, they literally act like Neanderthal children who have recently been dropped into current society after being deprived of prepackaged food, bakery aromas, and funky carts with wheels their entire lives.  Annoying.  Anyway poor-parking lady was adding frustration to an already aggravating event.  I'll never know if she heard my message.  I'll also never understand why I didn't roll my window down and share my thoughts with her while she demanded that I move my car.  I think I was just dumbfounded to have found anyone so inept.

You might find this shocking, but grocery getaway lady was not my first experience with a parking idiot.  A few years ago I drove the 4 youngest kids downtown to the Field Museum.  They were performing with their Irish dancing school for underprivileged children from Chicago.  After double parking outside the museum, I raced the kids inside to get them to the meeting room where they would change into their clothes and rehearse their numbers.  Dripping in sweat and worried about the legality of my somewhat abandoned vehicle, I jogged for the exit.  Ahh, the car sat right where I had left it.  Now I followed the instructions that were given to me by a museum employee to park across the street in the Soldier's Field parking garage.  I found a spot on the first floor.  This time I was not driving the 'great white' but the old minivan.  I slid into the spot despite the fact that the car in the next spot was parked horribly.  This car was not even close to being within the white lines of the chosen spot.  The car on the other side didn't allow much wiggle room either.  Concerned that one of the kids would need me and would be forced to seek assistance from any number of moms who thought their dancers' ability together with their financial status crowned them automatic royalty in the Irish dancing world, I parked there despite the obvious space issues.  Sucking in my breath, I exited the auto and side stepped between the adjacent car until I was free.  Breathing again and bolting for the museum.

After the show, the kids and I made our way back to the garage.  Because the performers were allowed to participate in the party following the show, we enjoyed the Jesse White Tumblers, a visit with Santa, balloon animals, McDonald's happy meals, and many laughs.  We were one of the last people to exit the building.  Reggie turned as we were leaving and asked, "Wait, so ev-we-fing in dere is dead?"  With his speech impediment that makes his language similar to a New York City resident.  A museum employee departing for home carrying her work in her briefcase overheard his question.  She and I shared a chuckle.  Tetonka prided himself on being one of the last people out of the party.  My kids may not be underprivileged, but they don't get out much, so this soiree was a highlight of their winter. 

We noted that our car was one of the few remaining in the garage.  As we approached our car, I noticed that the car parked to my right was just backing up.  I stopped the kids in their drunk-with-fun, giggling tracks so they weren't run over.  Tetonka noticed the note first.  I grabbed it off the windshield.  There was a handwritten message on a blank, bank deposit slip.  'Nice parking job.  Had to load 3 kids and self in thru passenger door.  Next time think!'  I swiveled around just as the note leaving culprit was rounding the turn and driving past us in the next lane for the exit.  "Next time park between the lines, moron!" I yelled.  While she was not brave enough to wait and scoff at me face to face, even though she clearly saw us approaching, she did have the inner strength to flip my young children and I the bird as she squealed out of the lot. 

Perhaps I should have passed up the last close proximity spot when I saw how poorly she parked, but maybe she should learn how to align her car between the white lines if she doesn't want to crawl thru a passenger door.  I pointed it out to my only witnesses, my kids. . . they noted my textbook parking job.  It irked me that she clearly thought she was correct, and I had no opportunity to state my case or point out my awesome parking job.  I hope she reads this, so SHE 'thinks' next time she ponders leaving a note on someone's car. 

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