Driving (and Walking) in Parking Lots
You Are Not Here Alone
Many people seem to put on horse blinders when they get behind the wheel of their car, and develop a perception that they are the only ones on the road, in the parking lot, or indeed, in the world.
This leads to very poor choices of action, or inaction, as the case may be. It seems that "safely" tucked inside the cocoon of their vehicle, they feel anonymous, and as if the manners they were once taught can be ignored. I have to wonder sometimes, though, if some of these people ever did receive instruction in proper social behavior.
Emily Post and "Miss Manners" advice on formal situations aside, it would seem to be the shared duty of parents and schools to instruct folks in basic daily manners, such as saying "excuse me" if you bump into someone, or holding a door open for a senior citizen, mother pushing a stroller, or disabled person.
Sadly, though, daily evidence points to a lack of this basic training. Since manners are the lubricant that allows society to function, the lack thereof causes all kinds of problems. In the extreme case, we see people being beaten up, or worse, shot, in such trivial matters as disputes over parking places.
The first person may, indeed, have been rude, and cut off someone already heading for a given spot--but the situation is exacerbated when the person who was denied reacts with even worse manners, and starts a physical altercation, or worse, kills the person whom they perceive "wronged" them.
You see these stories on the news all too often. I want to reach through the screen, grab the offender and say, "So you missed out on the parking spot. Another one will come along. Get over it! It is not worth someone's life, health, or well-being. Rudeness does not deserve the death penalty."
This is a serious peeve of mine in a crowded lot. You are driving in circles, finding no open spots, and finally, you see someone get into their car. You stop behind them, with plenty of room for them to back out, and wait.
And what is the person doing? Fiddling with the CD player; making a phone call; talking to (or arguing with) another person in the car; and sometimes--this really galls me--just sitting there.
Meanwhile, traffic is backing up, people are honking at you, because you are sitting there waiting for the space to become available to do your own errand.
At long last, you decide they are not leaving any time soon, and give up. As you round the corner into the next aisle, you see the person pull out and drive away. Of course, someone who was behind you gets the spot you were waiting for.
If the lot is crowded, get in your car, start the engine and leave! It is very rude and inconsiderate to just sit there fiddling with stuff, or what have you, causing traffic to back up and people to become impatient.
Suggested Rule: If you are not ready to leave, do not get in the car yet! If things you need to fiddle with are inside the car, then get in on the passenger side to deal with them, so other drivers will not think you are about to depart. Shift to the driver's side only when you are actually ready to vacate the spot.
Drivers Need to Pay Attention
Too many drivers seem to think they are safely in their own driveways, and proceed to back up without watching behind them.
Check out this video that illustrates the point very well.
Who is at fault? It's obvious to me....
Pedestrians Are Guilty, Too
There are too many people on the way to or from their cars who are completely oblivious to the fact that they are in what amounts to a street, with moving vehicles going in all directions.
From people pushing baby strollers and shopping carts, to elderly walking with assistive devices, many of them simply do not watch where they are going. The burden is on the drivers to watch out for careless people on foot.
These folks seem to think they are walking safely down the midway at Disneyland or some other auto-free zone. It is dangerous for both them and the drivers. Too many times to count, even at slow parking lot speeds, I've had to slam on my brakes because some fool pedestrian just had to get across the aisle at that very moment, and dove right in front of me as if I wasn't even there.
Worse, and scarier, are those who are blissfully unaware of a vehicle's blind spots. The bigger the vehicle, the bigger the blind spot. When I am driving my truck, which has a small camper shell, I cannot see what is behind the corners of the truck, either in the mirrors or by turning my head. Yet, people will see me backing out of a spot, and just keep walking right on behind my vehicle already in motion.
Wow! Blinders on? Stupidity? Death wish? Hard to say, but it is quite frightening for the driver to have checked, seen no one, start to back up, and suddenly, see a person emerge from out of the blind spot. I often wish for a rear-end horn for these situations!
Suggested Rule: If you are on foot in any parking lot, watch where you are going; look both ways before crossing the aisle--just like they taught you in kindergarten--and do NOT proceed when you see a car in motion. Wait until it passes your spot. If there is a lot of traffic in the lot, and you need to cross, wait until you can catch a driver's eye, and indicate that you need to move across, and wait for them to stop and indicate for you to go ahead. Who knows? They may need your parking spot.
Many of these unaware pedestrians are also guilty of talking and walking; it's just as bad as driving and using the phone.
That is because they are so wrapped up in paying attention to their conversation that they think they are alone in the world, and are totally oblivious to anything and everything going on around them.
Unless it is a life and death emergency, (and I can guarantee that 99.99999% of such conversations are NOT), then there is nothing in the world so damned important that you have to be on the phone the entire time you're walking into the store, shopping, and back to your car. Yet I see this every time I go shopping.
I do hope that these trends can be reversed, for I weary of trying to fight this uphill battle in teaching manners to a world gone crazy and wild.
Have you ever witnessed a parking lot accident resulting from someone not paying attention?
© 2014 Liz Elias