Friday, June 13, 2008

Service Journalism!: Reclaiming Your Arlington Illegal Parking

This post on Metroblogs documents an encounter with a parking scofflaw at the little strip mall thingy that houses, among other things, Ray's The Steaks, Guajillo, and an ABC store. The author treats the illegal parker a little roughly, and when coupled with the comments, the post degenerates into a mini-blogosphere masterpiece of high dudgeon ("How DARE you criticize the people you encounter!"), judgementalism ("Let me tell you about this total hick!" "NO! Let me tell you about how this guy who parked his car wrong totally had the audacity to work hard, save money, and buy a nice vehicle! How bourgeois! PLEASE PASS THE SHERRIED CRAB BISQUE, NECTAR OF THE COMMON MAN!"), and weird moral flexibility ("Like, OMGYALL'S! Speeding is TOTES okay sometimes, srsly!") Actually, the best thing about the post is that the author is now on the record as taking the following position: There are rules to parking, and they should be applied and enforced, to everyone except me.

But look. I, too, have experienced the difficulty of needing to pull into that ridiculously small lot in order to get some merchandise from the ABC store. When luck smiles upon me, and a space reveals itself, I am always glad. But this is a rare occasion. So, when you need to illegally park in that lot, here's the handy protocol.

In the first place, there is a space in that parking lot that's not really a space. It's got diagonal lines running across it, and it is in front of Guajillo, I believe. Before you take your chances on the street in the no parking zone, always check to see if you can squeeze in there first. Now, it's not suitable to all cars. If you're driving something small and economical like I do, it's no problem. If you aren't driving something like that, wait one year, and then you'll pretty much have to, because the price of gas will be, like, 7.99 a gallon or something. Anyway, pull in, get your booze, and pull out, no problem. I'd still recommend you do it briskly, after all, there'll be someone right behind you, hoping for that space. So don't tarry. Make up your mind what you'll be drinking before you get to the store.

Now, if that space is available, it is vastly preferable to the street, for an obvious reason: when you illegally park your car on the street, you are putting your shit right out there in the path of John Q. Law. The great thing about keeping your illegal parking in the lot is that a) the police can't see you, and b) they don't give a thin fuck about it anyway.

But, let's say you can't fit in that space or its occupied, and you got to grab that streetside space in the no parking zone. What to do? Well, in the first place, you better safe-side it and be at least as brisk as you planned to be using the lot. But more to the point, you need to PUT THOSE HAZARD LIGHTS ON before you get out of your car. I can't tell you how often I see people illegally parked who haven't put their hazards on. You people disappoint, and, indeed, disgust me.

See, those hazards are like your parking diplomatic immunity. I mean, it's not foolproof, every once in a while you'll catch some ACPD who wants to go all Martin Riggs on your whip, and you'll get your ass ticketed. But, in most cases, those hazard lights sow critical seeds of doubt in people who would otherwise just jam you up with citations, had you not turned them on. Yeah, they think, they could ticket you. But what if you're doing something important, like picking up an organ donation. Or maybe you're some muckety-muck whose just gonna quash the ticket. Or you've pulled over in an emergency. Confronted with those hazard lights, the average lawman thinks, "Man, if I write a ticket, and then find out there's some extenuating circumstance, it's just gonna be a big hassle." Those hazards, and the doubt they instill, are your friends.

Now, naturally, the only time things might get dicey is when you get back to your car with your liquor. Obviously, if you blow the worst bad luck in the universe and catch a cop there, mid-contemplation, playing out all those hazard light scenarios in their head, shit could get hectic. But odds are, if anyone notices you at all, it's just going to be the people hanging around those stores anyway. Most of them are gonna sympathize, because they KNOW that parking lot is a MOTHERFUCK. So that's okay. The worst that can happen is someone gives you a withering glance, but that shit never killed nobody.

Besides, you're walking out of the liquor store, and in a few minutes, you are going to be sipping on a glass fulla who-the-fuck-cares-what-anyone-thinks-of-me. All you have to do is put yourself in that frame of mind a few minutes earlier and while you are sober. It will make any negative vibe anyone throws you feel inconsequential, and it'll have the added bonus of demonstrating to yourself that you don't need booze to have a good time.

You're welcome!

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