In my youth, I spend a decade working at Consumers Distributing. There is nothing — nothing — you can tell me about Christmas shoppers that will surprise me. I survived Cabbage Patch Dolls, Transformers, geese-themed kitchenware and Teddy Ruxpin. It forever cured me of enjoying shopping or malls or salivating over a catalogue of broken dreams. But the only thing worse than being inside a mall this time of year, is being outside in the parking lot.

I need to talk to The Other Guy about parking. I know it can’t be you, so it has to be The Other Guy. And yes, I know how chaotic others make those parking lots, and how dangerous and how frustrating. Can we all agree on some ground rules?

Stay out of accessible parking spaces, unless: You have a permit, the permit is issued to you, and you — the permit holder — is the one going in to shop. Leaving grandma behind like a placeholder while you dash in defeats the purpose, and makes you look awful. Besides, that’s not a cool thing to do to grandma.

Stay out of fire zones. Just, stay out. This is the time of year when people are more likely to have a heart attack, as they fight for the last Hatchimal or Barbie Dream House. Those EMTs need to get in, and that fire truck needs to park there.

About those fire zones: Putting on your four-way flashers is not calling dibs on that space. It does not make your car not in the way, and nobody gives a toot about how long you’ll only be, because we all know that going into a mall in December is where plans go to die.

Back in. It’s the safest thing. You probably have a camera and a thousand sensors that will let you know when you’re screwing up.

If you’re backing out because you didn’t back in, drop your windows. It can be hard to see at night, especially if it’s snowing or raining and people are distracted. You’ll be surprised how much you can hear that you don’t see.

Teach your kids to be on the lookout for reverse lights. Too many people ignore keep their windows up, and just shoot out of parking spots staring at a backup camera. They are wrong, but you don’t want to be dead.

Don’t fight over parking spots. People these days are shooting and throwing rocks at each other over parking spots, and even dying. Don’t do this. ‘Tis the season for goodwill, blah-blah-blah. Consider it your good deed to let someone have the spot, if they really want it that badly. Besides, you’re about to go swimming upstream among thousands of grumpy people. Why start out angry?

Don’t park in spots designated for hybrids and electric cars. Those EVs need the juice, especially in cold weather. On the flip side, if you’re shopping for hours, come out and unhook so someone else can get to the electric trough.

Control your doors. Please don’t open your door wide and ding your neighbour. It’s the single, easiest thing to not do, and one that costs so much in damage to other cars. If you need a can opener to get out of your car, park somewhere else. Rein in your kids before they kick their doors open. Sliding doors on your minivan? Thank you.

Those family parking spots. It’s not illegal to park there like with an accessible spot, even if you’re un-familied. If you have to slug around strollers and toddlers, this is for you. If your kids are older, give me a break.

Pedestrians, don’t walk diagonally. You hold up everybody, and it makes you dangerous when drivers don’t know what you’re doing. Also, if you are so inclined, you can always let a lurker who is creeping along behind you know where your car is. You don’t have to, but it’s kind. And drivers, let pedestrians cross. You’re warm and dry.

Park straight. Parking lots have to have a set number of spots that is determined by building codes. They don’t make lots bigger, they simply paint the lines closer together because hey, now we’re up to code. Vehicles, of course, are now supersized. See the problem? Every inch of that spot is needed. If you’re a lousy parker, head out to the hinterland of the lot and walk. The air will do you good.

Don’t honk your horn. This is not festive and it achieves nothing. I’m anti-horn all year, but especially now and in parking lots. It’s startling, angry and just like your mom told you, just because someone else is an idiot doesn’t mean you have to be one. Assume the person pissing you off had a worse day than you did. Keeping your own blood pressure in check is a gift that keeps on giving.

The world is kind of a crappy place right now, and everybody is stressed. It’s the small things that make a difference, and we can always do small things. Kindness changes people. Honest.

Source: Driving

December 5, 2018