Ever been lost in the oblivion of a parking lot?

Published 9:21 am Monday, August 23, 2010

Julie Seedorf, Something About Nothing

Have you ever been afflicted with parking lot oblivion? You know the feeling. You walk out of the store into the massive parking lot. You are focused on your recent purchase, weighed down by bags and you look up.

All of a sudden panic starts building. You are facing a sea of cars, trucks, vans and motorcycles. You see the waves of heat rising in the parking lot from all the vehicles. You see the heat flowing off of the cars like the waves in the ocean. Where is your vehicle? Where did you park? Did you drive your van or your car?

Julie Seedorf

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Hoisting the heavy bags higher in your arms you take a step forward. You meander to the right and wander down the middle of the lane looking for a small glimpse of your vehicle. Maybe you entered the building through the other door? You move across the parking lot forgetting that there are cars that want to drive down the lane. You meander from side to side on the lane blocking those who have parking lot indecision from making their choice of the perfect parking space. You click your opener hoping for a flash or a sound that will indicate your vehicle is near. You are in the throes of parking lot oblivion.

You are oblivious to motorists who are trying to navigate the parking lot. You are oblivious to motorists who are trying to avoid running you down. It has happened to all of us. We have all been afflicted with parking lot oblivion at one time or another.

I encountered many people this weekend who were afflicted with parking lot oblivion. It takes a lot of patience if you are driving in a parking lot either trying to find a parking space or trying to remove yourself from a parking lot when you encounter parking lot oblivion. Since I am Minnesota nice, I did not use hand gestures to hurry them along. I did not beep my horn at them, and I did not treat them to words from my vocabulary that I normally do not use. But maybe I wanted to.

Have you ever been a passenger with a driver who has parking lot indecision? It takes five minutes or more to choose a parking stall even if there is one readily available. By the time the vehicle finally comes to a halt, you know every lane and every parked car by memory. You want to scream. “Just park this vehicle; I could have had my shopping done already.” Of course, Minnesota nice prevented me from shouting those words.

And then there are the drivers who have to wait for a certain parking stall. Someone is leaving and that is the stall that someone wants, and they will wait for it forever. If you are behind the waiter, you are tapping your watch, speaking under your breath and perhaps tapping on the horn. It doesn’t matter; the vehicle in front of you will wait forever for the parking stall. The cars behind this vehicle can’t go forward or backward.

I wondered if there was parking lot etiquette. There is.

There are actually posted speed limits in a parking lot. I hadn’t thought about that. I have seen many people using it as an obstacle racing course.

There are one-way signs. Does that mean anything to most of us if we see the valued parking space that we know has our name on it?

Also we need to be respectful of handicapped parking spaces. We need to leave them for people who need them. We also need to remember that people who use these spaces might look healthy but often have a medical condition that prevents them from walking very far.

There are stop and yield signs in a parking lot. We ignore them the same way we sometimes ignore the stop signs or yield signs on our streets.

There are pedestrian crosswalks in parking lots. On the street we are to stop if a pedestrian is in the crosswalk. We seem to forget that rule in parking lots and make the pedestrians wait for us.

We are also to use turn signals in parking lots. I don’t recall seeing that very often, but then it is hard to use a turn signal if we are in the midst of parking lot indecision. We would have to signal right and then quick signal left and quickly change back to right, confusing the person behind us because we never know which parking stall has our name on it until the last minute.

We are to use common courtesy. Keep the parking lot clean, which means that we park the carts in the cart stalls, not into the car next to us. Pull your vehicle all the way into the space and always park between the lines.

According to WonderHowTo.com, you are to avoid curb hopping, slow down in the rain and avoid the temptation to blow the horn at other drivers when you are in a parking lot.

These are real rules of etiquette for parking lots. Unfortunately, many of us do not abide by the rules because we know there is no one watching us. There are no policeman hiding in the bushes to give us a ticket or a parking lot superhero to save us from the terrors of the parking lot. The only one we have policing us is us. Would you give yourself a ticket?

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send e-mail to her at thecolumn@bevcomm.net. Her blog is paringdown.wordpress.com. Listen to KBEW AM radio 1:30 p.m. Sundays for “Something About Nothing.”