Saturday, May 19, 2012

Rumble in the Parking Lot Jungle

I love where I live.
Now don't get me wrong - our last apartment had adequate space, a lovely location and was dirt cheap (by LA standards).  But the view from our balcony was a huge white wall.  The apartment we live in now has better space and is in a FABULOUS location (although the dirt does cost a little more).  But the view from our balcony is really worth the price of monthly admission.  We have a huge parking lot that's adjacent to a park that I lovingly call our "front lawn." 

But "the noise," you say; "the traffic, the people!"  "Why would you want to live next to a PARK?"

Let me explain.

As a whole, we people are idiots; I mean, how else do you explain the phenomenon known as "Jersey Shore"?  But I will say this - I absolutely love people watching.  And luckily I have an endless supply of free entertainment at my disposal.  It's my own personal reality-show version of  "Parking Wars" just outside my patio door.  

You may think the price of a house in Southern California is expensive - but I tell you what, the various municipalities that only charge us one dollar per hour to park are letting us off easy - because there is nothing more valuable than a parking space at the beach on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.   I'm quickly discovering that if you want to do a study human behavior, come stand on my balcony.  You can learn all about people and their behavior patterns just by watching them in a parking lot.

For example:

The Revengers:  You can tell the people that have been picked on all their lives and need to exert their need for a sense of power and control in the universe; they're the ones that take FOREVER to get in their cars when it comes time to leave.  It's a pretty simple concept when you think about it.  You unlock the car, you sit in the seat, you put on a seat belt, start the car up, check your mirrors, back up and leave.  But THESE people - who had no problem zipping into that space when they arrived on the scene, suddenly forget the reverse concept when it comes time to go.  They'll s-l-o-w-l-y meander to the car, dropping their pace by a step or two the closer they get.  Then they'll have to walk allllllll around the vehicle, as though they need visual confirmation this is their car.  Then they have to open a door, pretend to put something inside, then close the door and proceed to the next door - and repeat the entire process at least 5 or 6 times; knowing full well that they now have a line of 50 cars queued up and waiting for them to leave.  By the time they finally get in the car and get it started, it's the afternoon of the following day.  And even though in the process of delaying everyone else, they've only proceeded to extend their own time there, they drive off feeling satisfied that they've left someone else as angry and as bitter as they are somewhere in their own existence. 

The Sharks:  These people are sneaky and high strung.  They'll catch sight of you as soon as you start walking to your car and will follow you for as long as it takes until you get in it and leave.  They'll not only creep you out in their 2-mile-per-hour crawl behind you - but the further you keep walking, the more you can't help but wonder at what point they're going to snap and just run you down out of impatience.   

The Do-Gooders:  These people will never move so fast in their lives as when they're vacating a parking space.  But don't be fooled by their good nature - although you praise their ability to get into their car, start it up and move out of your way in record speed; it is that kindness that will be your undoing later down the road when you're stuck behind them in traffic and they proceed to let EVERYONE cut in front of them and then drive 5 miles under the speed limit as you're trying to get home. 

The Hogs:  These are the Sense of Self Entitlement people.  But unlike The Revengers, these people aren't picked on - they just feel the need to exert a sense of power and control in the most butt-headed manner possible because....well....they're butt heads.  They somehow have this magical power that allows them to park their over sized vehicle on both lines of the parking space at the same time.  As soon as you park next to them you might as well take photos of your own vehicle for insurance purposes because there is bound to be a ding, scratch or dent in your car because they'll have no problem hitting any part of your vehicle they can come in contact with.  And you'll know they're headed to their car from a mile away because they will inevitably be the loudest, most obnoxious person in the parking lot - screeching, cussing, and somehow continually hitting the "panic" button on their key fob - anything that draws attention to them and screams - "I am a douche-bag - hear me roar".  We should just make them t-shirts.

The Horders:  These people bring EVERYTHING they own to the park for a picnic.  And when I say everything, I mean things you didn't even know you could bring to the park start coming out of their trunk. Not only am I watching them unload their car for at least a good half-hour before they start to make their way off the asphalt and onto the grass - but somehow, their car still looks as full as when they first pulled in - it's like they've got a Mary Poppins bag for a trunk. But as we all know - nothing ever fits back into a space when you're trying to leave as when you first arrive - so the REAL fun begins when it's time for them to go home and they're trying to put it all back into the trunk.  Somehow dimensional physics of the universe shifts in 4 hours and what fit into the car the first time around, suddenly swells in shape and mass and they end up leaving a lawn chair, a cooler, or sometimes their 3rd born by the curb to make enough room for everything else before they head home for the day. 

and finally....

The Norms:  These are the people that pull into to the parking lot and drive around a few times looking for a space - totally non-Sharker.  They don't cut anyone off, they don't honk the horn at a Revenger, they may get lucky enough to snag a space from a Do-Gooder, but then they just park the car, get out and walk into the park.  No baggage, no luggage, no Horder-like kitcen sink.  They're just here to spend a little time out in the sun and enjoy the fresh air.  When it comes time to leave, their non-Hog personality allows them to merely walk to the car, get in, start it up and leave.  Easy come, easy go.  These are the people we all wish to be.  Easy.  Carefree.  At peace with themselves and the world.  It almost gives you hope for the human race.

Thank God there aren't many of them in this parking lot or I'd be better off with the big white wall.