Saturday, September 01, 2007

Parking Wars


Saturday afternoon marks the beginning of Labor Day weekend in Blissville, when workers head home and factories close.

But come Tuesday morning in this little economic enterprise zone, the pressure for parking spaces will run high. For the businesses that depend on room for deliveries, it's an exercise of cooperation, from business to business to business.

Of course, not everyone honors the same ethic. And so the wars begin. The export-import company's truck will obstruct the entrance to the garage, who in turn will block it with a tow-truck while all along, the traffic along the street will build. And soon a chorus of horns will ring out through the neighborhood. But time is money, and eventually the garage will be forced to pull back to let the delivery truck leave. An armistice that will last only a day.

I once waged my own wars on the block. Cars from the limousine company down the block were occupying more and more of the spaces. I was tired of having to park several blocks away. They had a huge parking lot of their own next to the company building.

And so I fought back. I honked and yelled at the company's drivers. Sometimes I double-parked to trap them in, and when I could, I snuck in behind them and stole the space outright. If they cursed me, I cursed back. They had room of their own down the street, I reasoned. They didn't need the space in front of my apartment building, too.

Then one day I went to my car to run a mid-day errand. I started up, turned the wheel and inched forward. Clunk-a-clunk-a-clunk, my car went. I felt it as much as I heard it. I got out to see what the problem was. I had two flat tires on the passenger side of the car. I got back in and hobbled down the street to the garage at the corner.

The mechanic who came out shook his head. "What did you do?"

I shrugged. "Nothing," I said.

He shook his head again. "Someone slit your tires, miss."

I swallowed. What choice did I have? I told him to put on new tires.

For the next few months I studied those drivers, wondering which one had waited under the cover of darkness to slash my tires. But I conceded whatever parking space they wanted on the block.

Years have passed, and I've found my own peace. And somehow, I never want for a parking spot now.

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