Searching for a spot under the sun

Note: This column appears in the 5/17 issue of The Glendale Star and the 5/18 issue of the Peoria Times.

One of the few things on which my wife and I have failed to find common ground is parking.

I’m pretty sure this is a normal disagreement, not necessarily indicative of the male/female relationship. It is, rather, a fence that separates us all, regardless of gender. 

She needs to find the best spot; I don’t care.

I will take any open spot in the general area, and I will never loop around to another aisle of parking. I repeat: I will not loop. There is no hope on the other side. I have been fooled by too many motorcycles and Smart Cars to believe otherwise.

My take is: what’s the big deal? So we have to walk a little farther. Walking is good exercise, and I’d much rather be walking towards the entrance than driving around like a doofus looking for a spot 20 feet closer. I loathe looking for parking. It’s a necessary evil in life in which I will invest as little time as possible. I also think I have an unconscious and defeatist attitude that whatever good spots do exist will be gone before I get there. Or worse, my Kia will become engaged in a competition with a monster pick-up truck sporting a gun rack for a spot in front of Safeway. If that’s how I die, I’m going to be pissed. 

Some of my life’s worst moments involve failed attempts at finding parking. Many years ago my wife and I drove into Brooklyn for a night out, and spent the first hour and a half looking for a parking spot on the street. If I didn’t cry, I came darn close. We only found a spot after my wife uttered her special prayer to Mother Cabrini, the Patron Saint of Parking (and, presumably, other things): “Mother Cabrini, Mother Cabrini, find me a spot for my little machiny.” This is a real prayer, by the way. And it works, although it can only be used in dire circumstances. For example, when the male driver of a vehicle is near tears.

Maybe it was her harsh Brooklyn upbringing of no available parking that imbedded within my wife a more aggressive, committed attitude to finding only the best spot. And for her, finding the best spot doesn’t just mean the closest. 

She uses terms like “50 percenter,” used to signify a spot against a curb or median, meaning there’s a 50 percent less chance an adjacent car door will hit or scratch her car. If she finds a 50 percenter, she will be sure to, if given the opportunity, “pull through,” so that her car is more readily available to exit without having to back out. (She will, if the car in front of her is about to exit, wait so that she can pull through to that spot, and she suggests demands I do the same.) Also—this is real—here’s a question: where are we in relation to the sun? She will not park with the sun hitting her windshield, and I cannot tell you how many minor arguments we have become engaged in when I, oblivious to life, failed to notice I was about to park facing directly west at sixteen hundred hours. (Location: Kohl’s.)

Regarding parking, we have agreed to disagree. She will complain about having to walk any additional distance “in these shoes;” I will complain about waiting for a family of six to get situated in their vehicle so that we can pull through. I suppose it’s the common ground we’ve reached on this common ground.