Parking Lot Psychology, Ctd

May 23 2012 @ 5:06pm

A reader writes:

The reluctance of people to leave a parking space isn't just about territorial imperative or property-rights thinking. It's about etiquette, or trying to enforce it. There is a species of driver I refer to as the "parking lot vulture". This is the person who, while looking for a parking space, sees you approaching your car with a full shopping basket. The vulture will then park their car in the middle of the aisle, blocking traffic, just barely giving you enough room to pull out of your space without clipping the car next to you. A line invariably forms behind the vulture, who sees nothing wrong with waiting and watching you load your car, just so long as the vulture doesn't have to take one step on foot more than absolutely necessary.

This behavior is pardonable when the vulture is extremely elderly or handicapped, and they have obvious need of a close space. Otherwise it's rude as hell. It puts pressure on the person in the parking space to hurry up, hurry up and get out already. It blocks the drive for other people seeking parking spaces, or for people getting out of parking spaces. Thus, even if it wasn't also burning gas or diesel, it's still making our world a little worse place to live in.

The only non-violent protest a person can make with parking lot vultures is to slow-walk their departure. I myself have on occasion simply refused to get in my car until the vulture takes the hint and goes elsewhere. This reaction is partly a stand for etiquette (or, at least, for teaching grown people to WALK), and partly a childish "you can't make me" reaction against unjust authority.

So it's not about keeping the parking space. It's about keeping the vulture from profiting by his or her inconsiderate behavior.

Another illustrates that point:

When parking spots are genuinely tight, such as around Christmas time, if another driver is "hovering" waiting for my spot, I'll be sympathetic and polite, and pull out quickly and efficiently to make sure that driver gets the spot and not a possible interloper (as happens all too often.)  However, when a driver is waiting for my spot rather than take one of dozens of available spots, simply because my spot is closer to the storefront, then I get cranky and obnoxious.  If the waiting driver has the nerve to honk the horn, I have been known to stop the engine and walk back to the store – just to piss off the rude lazy-ass driver who's waiting.