An acquaintance told me recently, “You and I are kindred spirits in one respect.” OK, I replied. I’ll bite. He explained, “We both have a problem with people who have a parking problem.”
The gentleman, an elegant senior citizen whose gait was being girded with the support of a cane, said he had mouthed off recently to someone without a permit who thought nothing of planting his vehicle illegally in a handicap spot: “Why are you taking up that space?” the gentleman inquired.
The crass motorist’s classy reply was, “Because I can.” I told my kindred spirit that one of my preferred admonitions to people of that ilk is, “You should feel fortunate you don’t need to park there.”
Every so often in this space, this recurring theme rears its ugly grille: the not altogether healthy obsession I have with people who have a blind spot for where and how they park. The absence of simple decency exhibited by some among us gets my motor running into overdrive.
The parking story shared by my acquaintance reminded me I’m not alone in my fetish about people with a parking problem. In fact, I just came across a whole bunch of posts by people with parking fetishes on a fascinating Facebook page I’ve written about before—STFU Parents. If it’s not immediately apparent what STFU stands for, I’m more than happy not to spell it out for you here (in the interest of keeping my gig with this newspaper as a weekly columnist).
The issues and points of view that populate this particular Facebook page are very relatable for anyone who is a parent, or, for that matter, anyone without children. Every conceivable aspect of parenting is addressed at some point if you scroll long enough down the page.
It just so happens the most recent comments I eyeballed were about “Parent Parking Drama,” as the page administrator phrases it. Her name is Blair Koenig and she authors a blog titled “Mommyish(.com).”
Ms. Koenig writes, in part, “Particularly in high-traffic locations that are frequented by all walks of life, such as the grocery store, the movie theater, the mall, or the post office, parking spaces are fought over much like toys at a preschool…and no one gets [madder] more regularly over meaningless parking fiascos than parents.”
Meanwhile, back at the STFU Parents Facebook page, I read about a man who was scolded “by an entitled dad” in a park because the man had parked in a shaded spot. The upset father explained that his 3-year-old son was in a hot car, while dad was walking the family dog, and the inconsiderate man deprived this dad of the shaded spot. Irrational enough for ya?
In another case, a photo posted on the Facebook page shows a sign in front of a supermarket in a U.K. shopping center that reads, “Parent & Child Parking.” The spaces are wider than normal—as with a disabled spot—and, as the sign says, are “reserved for children under 5 so that parents have room for pushchairs.”
Sounds somewhat reasonable on the face of it. But then there’s this: If someone without a young child in tow parks in one of those designated spaces, it is punishable by a fine of 100 pounds (about $130).
So what’s the problem? The comment that accompanies the photo wonders whether it is sensible to equate a “Parent and Child” space with disabled parking.
In the topmost comment, Heather says, “Having kids is a choice! … Being handicapped is NOT a choice, and those are the only spots that should be reserved.” Heather was applauded by 274 thumbs up.
By way of reply, Gemma took exception to Heather’s point by writing, “When you are heavily pregnant you cannot get into and out of your car if people are parked too close so these spaces are a necessity. … it is kinda bulls**t that people park in them for the sake of it.” Gemma heard the sound of one hand clapping, with five thumbs up.
Heather returned serve with this zinger: “When I was heavily pregnant I managed… just as millions of heavily pregnant women did for ages before these spots existed.”
Curiously, the grocery store itself, Tesco, seems to be a tad conflicted about the strictly enforced parking regulation. Fine print on the Tesco sign says, “It’s so much easier when you shop from home.” But then people wouldn’t have the chance to go at each other on the Facebook page about the parking situation.
STFU Parents covers all kinds of juicy topics, from holding forth on some of the more exotic names that parents assign to their progeny, to moms who express a dislike for almost all children who aren’t their own, to commenting one way or another on couples who have no interest in having children.
It’s quite an eye-opening—and at times ear-splitting—forum. Where else could I discover that there’s this new trend in Facebook pages: One post links to an article on SheKnows.com with the tagline, “Psst, we don’t want to be friends with your baby on Facebook.” You can visit that site yourself to find out what advice is offered to a parent who inquires if it is advisable to create “Baby’s First Facebook Page.” I don’t see why not. What better way for a toddler to share with everyone that she just got an iPhone 7 for her second birthday?
Bruce Apar is Chief Content Officer of Google Partner Agency, Pinpoint Marketing & Design, as well as an actor and a regular contributor to several periodicals. Follow him as Bruce the Blog on social media. Reach him at email@example.com or 914-275-6887.