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Parking Space! Finding a By Monica Tanksley

Wikipedia defines “parking” as “the act of stopping a vehicle and leaving it unoccupied for more than a

brief time. …” The word has no synonyms or antonyms. It is what it is … parking.

Parking is a noun, and as we know, a noun is a person, place or thing. Since parking is not a person or a place, it must be a “thing.”

And parking is that “thing” that seems to rub our fur the wrong way.

Yes, even for those of us who work in the industry, it’s a bittersweet love affair, and we have to admit that finding a parking space often is a challenge.

We circle like vultures lurking for a quick bite. Like geese, we

get in a V-formation, trying to find a place to park. We line up like planes on the runways of surface lots, engines racing, holding our mark, anxiously waiting for other patrons to leave so we can nab their parking spots like thieves in the night.

We see a person coming out of a building, heading to the parking lot. We follow with our vehicle ever so slowly, like a prowling lion hiding in the jungle bush waiting to pounce on its prey.

We smile because we will soon have a parking space and be on our merry way. Suddenly, the person stops. They fake left, right, searching for their vehicle, having forgotten where they parked it. You see their facial expression

of dismay and disbelief that they can’t remember where it was

Having arrived

parking lot, we find ourselves competing in “Survivor – Battle of the Parking Spaces”

parked. “I know I came out this door,” you see their lips murmur. Then it dawns on them, and they scoot between rows and cars. Their vehicle is actually two lanes over, behind the yellow truck, near the lamp pole in aisle “H.” And the car waiting over there, not even looking to park, gets the space! “Finding a Parking Space 101” is a game. The object: find a

space in less than 10 minutes with the least amount of skimming, circling and frustration. The game has different levels – “seek and destroy,” “stalk,” “lie in wait” and “see it and take it.” Having arrived at a parking lot, we find ourselves competing in “Survivor – Battle of the Parking Spaces” – where only the strongest drivers survive. Frustrations are high, blood pressures are rising, teeth are gritted, our foot is ready to press the gas pedal through the floor. We breathe deep, heart racing, as we stare a parking space down, waiting for the car that’s occupying it to back out. We try to wait patiently (patience is a virtue) and try to be polite (being polite never pays), as we smile (unwillingly), and before we can say “road rage,” out the window goes our parking etiquette, as the vehicle that should be backing out doesn’t. The person is taking her time loading purchases and tucking the kids in the back seat. She takes forever to get in the car, and then when they all are finally in, she goes through the packages


inside the car, looks for lost items on the floor, yada, yada, yada. “Will ya come on!” we scream, beeping the horn. She acts as if we were driving Wonder Woman’s invisible jet and doesn’t see us waiting for what seems to be the only parking space in the entire lot. All of a sudden she gets out of the car, kids in hand, and we find out they weren’t leaving after all. They head back into the store. Don’t hate the player – hate

at a the game! And heaven forbid if we think that someone “stole” our

parking space. We can be verbally assaulting, blurting out obscenities (didn’t your mother teach you not to use those kinds of words?). And we can be even physical, as we go head-to-head to fight for what we believe is our parking space (as if it had our name on it and was a “table reserved” in a fancy restaurant). Beaten and trodden from the hard 30 minutes of searching for

a non-existent parking space, we creep with our tailpipe between our bumpers. We slither like a snake in the grass into the fire lane, put on our flashers, and make a mad dash into the building. Mission accomplished! We return in less than 15 minutes, packages in hand, a big smile on our face until … there it is! A pesky parking ticket stuck under the windshield wiper. We look up and see the parking enforcement officer wave goodbye as he drives off. Snatching up the ticket and waving it high in the air at him, we spew a wicked witch’s cackle: “We’ll get you, my pretty parking lot. And your little garage, too.”

Monica Tanksley, Special Events Coordinator at the University of Rochester, NY, and assistant to the Parking Manager can be reached at

PT Parking Today

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