No one likes to be there, but these tips can make finding a spot a bit more tolerable for everyone
Originally published December 5, 2016
Decorations are up and Christmas music is playing in almost every store you visit; yup, it’s that festive time when when you’d give your kingdom for a parking spot and people consider causing bodily harm to others to celebrate the season. When you do have to make the inevitable trips to the mall for gifts (or even just deodorant and toothpaste), just make sure you don’t give away your self-respect, your health and your ethical centre while you’re at it. Here are a few tips to navigate parking lots in the festive season.
Never take a handicapped parking spot unless the person the tag belongs to is shopping. Never, ever, ever. You will go to hell if you do this. Do not leave a person with mobility challenges in the car like a placeholder while you take advantage of that sticker. When you get to hell, the waiting room will be full of people who have done this. Their number will never be called, so they will essentially spend their eternity in a waiting room in hell.
Stay out of the electric car charging spots if you’re not charging your EV. I don’t care if you think EVs are some communist plot against the eternal combustion engine; there will come a time when those charging stations will be a little further out from the main doors and not seem like such a perq. Flipside, if you’re charging your Leaf and you’re shopping for a long time, go take it off its umbilical cord and give someone a shot at those limited spaces.
The pregnant/little kids spots are up for grabs. I don’t take them, but I don’t care much if the unpregnant/child unencumbered do. Your level of festiveness may vary with how many times you’ve circled the lot.
If you are retired or have a flexible schedule (like say, a freelance writer) stay out of the malls after 6 pm and on weekends, if you can. This is the only time those with rigidly structured days can get there, so take pity and clear the runway. And, to be honest, if you don’t have to be there at those times, who would want to be?
Enter that parking lot with an open mind. Be relaxed. Assume you will be here for a long time, not a good time. Head to the back of the lot, no, farther, nope, a little more, there. It’s a nice night for a brisk walk.
Every time you shrug off that someone stole “your” spot, an angel gets its wings. Every time you honk your horn, an angel has its wings plucked off.
Back into your spots. I don’t do this at grocery stores because I need to access my trunk with a shopping cart. But it’s a safer option and you can probably get your bags in your car, and minimize the risk of hitting someone or something as you pull out. People are stupid in parking lots, in the dark, in a hurry, at Christmas. You still don’t get to hit them, and you’d feel really bad if you did.
Use your signals.
Appreciate that others actually don’t have any idea how long you’ve been waiting for a spot, and aren’t zipping into one that opens up to spite you. At a deli we all have a number; in a parking lot, it’s law of the jungle.
If you’re heading to your car and you notice you have a parking stalker, creeping along in their car and waiting for your soon-to-be vacant spot, let them know you’re about to weave through six lanes of parked cars and they’re free to follow you. Also let them know if you’re just dropping things off and are going back in for Round Two.
Some places have concierge parking services. Use it if you can afford it and consider it the gift you give yourself. Because they used dedicated lots, it also takes one more car from the general bedlam of the main lots.
If you have to make a call or a text, please, please do it in the mall before you leave. The passive aggressive parking spot squatters are worse than parking spot thieves. Getting in your car and having a twenty minute conversation at this time of year is, of course, your right. It is also rude. There are actual studies that show people take longer to exit a spot if they know someone is waiting for it. The studies were done before cell phones, so I wish someone would update them because I guarantee it’s gotten worse. We’re better than this. Aren’t we?
If your blood pressure is climbing, pull away. Seriously. Extricate yourself, even if you’re “right” from anything contentious. Another loop of the lot is better than confrontation. Several people were shot over parking spots in the U.S. during Black Friday sales. I never thought I would live long enough to write that sentence. Then again, there are many sentences I thought I’d never write regarding the U.S.
Or, do what I do. Stay home and order online.