During my last semester at Texas State University, work and life forced me to schedule a morning and an evening class at Old Main every Thursday. This gave me a layover of about five hours, most of which I spent doing homework, eating dinner and maybe a couple of Netflix documentaries on my iPhone.
One day, I found a shady place to while away the afternoon with a sandwich and an Attenborough piece on insect colonies, but I was distracted by a sort of social opera unfolding in the parking lot nearby.
The lot was full and real estate was apparently at a premium because several cars queued up to wait for spaces. I noticed the drivers of these cars were all angrily glaring in the same direction — at a single, empty, precious parking space in the middle of the front row.
But, this space wasn’t precisely empty. In fact, it contained roughly 2/7ths of the vehicle parked next to it — a blue jeep whose owner had parked too hastily, too early in the morning. I watched several of the waiting cars as they tried to squeeze into the deceptively inviting breach, but there just wasn’t enough room.
One young man with a Volkswagen was determined to make it work. He set his jaw and performed a heroic thirty-seven-point turn, managing after seven or eight minutes of careful navigation to maneuver his little machine into the narrow gap, but only just, and without leaving any room for the doors to fly. He quickly realized his mistake. The windows were a no-go too, because his car was smaller than either of the two cars it was wedged tightly in between.
I could almost feel this driver’s frustration. Here, he’d found a sweet parking spot minutes away — he could probably see his first class from here and he’d be on time for a change! But now trapped, he was uncertain of either escape or rescue.
With a final, defeated slump, the young man carefully backed out of the narrow space again. But, before he left, he scrawled something on a slip of college-lined notebook paper and got out, now that he could get his doors open, to tuck the note under one of the Jeep’s windshield wiper blades. Then, he sped off for greener pastures.
Friends, after that performance, I obviously couldn’t not glance at his note. I crept over to the Jeep and lifted the corner of the paper to read it.
“You suck at parking,” it said.
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