Friday, November 17, 2006

The Parking Situation

Last night I did something I'd never done before: I hung one copy of a letter on the front door of every room in my apartment building. I think it's pretty self-explanatory.

Dear fellow tenant,

Have you ever see that episode of SEINFELD entitled “The Parking Space?”

I guess there isn’t much point in trying to hide my identity because most people probably already know which room I reside in. I am the fellow who occupies room number 7 and I have taken pen to paper (or perhaps I should say “finger to keyboard”) to talk about something which really shouldn’t be that big of a deal but which, for some reason, seems to have become one: namely, the parking situation (I wonder if in the history of the Court of Kings apartment complex this has ever happened before).

When I first moved in, I was told by our lovely on-site manager Shirley that the parking spaces behind, and on the sides of, the building were numbered and intended for the vehicles of the tenants who lived in the corresponding room. This was a welcome change from my last residence which compelled one to “jockey for position” to find a parking spot. Incidentally, this place also charged $500 a month for a single bedroom (even with a lease), had no dishwasher or garbage disposal and was quite small in size (it did have a pool but not nearly as nice as ours). Thus, when I found this place, I was quite pleased with it. A vast improvement over my last home and I thought the parking situation was just one of the many perks of residing here. I just assumed that people would automatically respect the fact that the spaces were reserved. I never figured it would ever be a problem. How young and naïve I was.

Within the first week of living here I came home from grocery shopping one day and, lo and behold, there was someone else’s car in my spot. This was bewildering to me. Was I mistaken? Were they not reserved? Anyway, I was too tired at the time to do anything about it so, to my shame, I lazily parked in someone else’s space. This turned into a problem the next morning when the occupant of that spot knocked on my door and asked if I could move my vehicle. I apologized, told him that the only reason I had done so was because someone else took my spot and proceeded to move my car into my own space, which was now miraculously clear. I resolved then that I wouldn’t again do to someone else what was done to me. I hoped it wouldn’t be a problem, but if I found a car in my spot, I would not take someone else’s spot.

Sure enough, it did happen again and so I tried parking right by the building for a while, but that never felt right because I feared I was blocking the passage for other cars to drive through. I took to parking on the street for a period of time (sometimes as much as three blocks away). During this span of time, I was also leaving what I thought were relatively friendly-sounding notes on the windshields of the cars (“These spaces are reserved. Please, do not park in my spot again. Thank you. ---The guy in Room #7” Okay, maybe it’s not exactly a Hallmark greeting card, but given the mood I was in sometimes, I thought it was pretty pleasant). For a while I thought this procedure might work because I never saw the same car in my spot more than once. The people were apparently receiving my messages and respecting my wishes. YAAAYYY!!!

After a while, however, I got a little weary of parking on the street, especially on days when I would come home tired from work expecting to just park my car, walk up the stairs to my room and crash on my bed. Pulling into your lot and finding your own parking space occupied on such a day can be a bit of a bummer. Especially if it’s pouring down rain (as it has been a lot lately) meaning I would get drenched on the walk from my car to my room. The unfortunate thing is that I didn’t have to. I had my own parking space. It’s just that it was frequently being used by other people.

The kicker for me, though, was when I left the note on someone’s windshield and found the same car back in my spot again a day later. Not only did they choose to ignore my request, but I got the feeling that they were deliberately trying to antagonize me, as if my desire to park in my own spot (which I was paying for) was somehow unreasonable. I didn’t know what else to do. Quite frankly, I’ve never had to deal with this type of a situation before and I do not handle confrontation or conflict very well (Yes, yes. I know I’m a coward. What can I say?). I REALLY didn’t want to get into the habit of calling a tow truck because who wants to be the guy that everybody hates? I wracked my brain to come up with a possible solution and being the creative person that I am I thought maybe I could keep a small sign which read “reserved” in the backseat of my car. When I left to go somewhere I could place the sign in my spot and when I returned, I could stick it back in my car. I liked this idea because it was unconventional, non-confrontational and, not least important of all, would ensure my spot would be there (ready and waiting for me) whenever I came home. Who knows? Perhaps some of my fellow tenants might even admire my ingenuity and start adopting the practice themselves, right?

Wrong. No such luck.

On the first night of trying this I came home to find another sign attached under my “reserved” sign which said “for a**holes.” Someone had also scribbled “You’re a douche” in red ink on my sign. So, despite my best efforts to the contrary, I actually DID end up becoming the cantankerous tenant that nobody likes and who cares so much about his precious parking space that he just wants to make everyone else’s life miserable. Great. Lucky me.

So, that is why I am writing this letter because I really don’t know what else to do. I am at my wit’s end. I am completely at a loss for what course of action to take next and this is my last resort since, as I said, I don’t plan to start calling any tow trucks anytime soon. I guess I am just trying to appeal to the better natures of everyone here. Am I really being unreasonable? Is it actually so absurd to want others to respect a person’s space in such a manner? Am I expecting too much of my fellow man? If so, please, feel free to tell me. I admit I would like it if I could park in my own spot whenever I wish although, to be honest, I’d be willing to go back to the “first-come/first-serve” parking method as long as we can ALL agree on that. In the meantime, I shall refrain from using the sign that seemed to ignite such fury in people and I shall also stop placing notices on windshields since they don’t seem to do much good either. If you still wish to think me an “a**hole” or a “douche,” I guess that’s your choice. I won’t try to stop you. Just believe me when I say that I’m not really that bad of a guy once you get to know me. Really.

Anyway, I know this was a long letter and I apologize for that. Brevity has never been my strong suit. At any rate, I thank you for your time, attention and patience and hope you have a wonderful rest of the day with nobody taking anything that belongs to you. Oops! Sorry. Couldn’t resist. :)


The A**hole in Room #7

They say a person should get to know their neighbors, but I never anticipated it would happen like this.


Erin said...

That's awful! I would feel exactly the same way. Parking is one of my least favorite things to do in the world, and if I had to park three blocks away when I had a spot reserved directly in front of my house I think I wouldn't be as nice as you were. :D Let us know how your letter works... this is an interesting story.

Damian said...

Well, when I came home today, my space was empty. So, hopefully things are turning around. :)

Squish said...

Wow, any news since? I'd totally be the tow truck guy though, and early on... you're too nice :P

Damian said...

Wow, any news since?

Well, nobody has parked in my spot since I distributed the letter and that was over 2 weeks ago.

you're too nice

Awww... Thanks, squish. :)

Squish said...

I meant you're too nice as a negativism :P


Damian said...

I meant you're too nice as a negativism.

I know. My niceness compelled me to take it as a compliment. ;)

Squish said...

So is all this still good news three months later?

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