Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ticket to nowhere

I have just discovered a new technique for finding a space in busy car-parks which I've never tried before and thought I would, perhaps altruistically, share it with you.

The secret is . . .


This is not normally something I attempt, as I have the patience of a hyperactive fieldmouse. My de rigeur method of parking is to hammer in through the barrier, squeal round looking left and right for a space, tutting loudly when there aren't any and zooming over to the next car-park to repeat the sequence. This takes about ten minutes, uses a lot of fuel and invariably results in me eventually finding a space in the first car park I tried anyway.

Recently I realised that, generally, there's usually someone coming back to leave every five minutes or so, so why not hang around and take advantage, giving them an encouraging get-a-wiggle-on-matey-I-haven't-got-all-day smile, and revving your engine slightly?

That sounds more menacing than it is, but it's actually more of a friendly reminder to buck up than anything threatening. Like demanding money with menaces, which must be fun when the loan shark turns up with a couple of stripy-jerseyed cartoon ragamuffins.

So now, like a vehicular pike in a tarmac canal, I sit and wait for the vulnerable ducklings of tired shoppers to waddle back to their cars, slowly following them in a manner usually reserved for retired judges on kerb-sides at night, until they vacate their space. Then I pounce! Like a tiger.

A tiger in a Focus C-Max.

Of course, the chances are greatly increased if you've made your morning sacrifice to the gods of vacant spaces, which is usually a spot of 10w40 oil poured over a chicken's claw whilst chanting "chugga chugga chugga chugga chuggington" and turning widdershins.

Come on, we've all done it.

It must work because every time I do it, I subsequently get a parking space, and often after waiting only 20 or 30 minutes. Cause and effect, see?

As contractually obligated, the gods grinned their beneficent carbon-monoxidey grins on us, and an old biddy wandered in to vacate a space. Obviously, not without putting her shopping down, looking for her keys in a handbag so large you could keep a panda in it, finding them, putting them on the roof, opening the boot, putting the shopping in, reading the labels on every item as she put them in, closing the boot, watching in confusion as it bounced open again, removing her handbag from the hinges, closing it again, getting in the car, putting her seat belt on, patting her blue rinse, checking she could see herself properly in the rear-view mirror, undoing her seat belt, getting back out of the car and retrieving her keys from the roof, getting back in the car, starting her engine and then backing out at 1 MPH but 5000 RPM.

Of course, by this time, two other cars had come and gone, but because the old lady had smiled at me so sweetly whilst I was waiting, before kindly giving me her ticket and then getting into her cronemobile (a practically compulsory purple Nissan Micra), I felt beholden to use that space.

The ticket had twenty-seven minutes left on it.

Ooh, quandary.

I had about an hours worth of stuff to do in town, so I knew I was going to need to longer than that. You then have questions to ask yourself. Do I accept, and then risk not being picked up by the Parking Nazis*? Do I rush, and try to jam everything in to 27 minutes? Do I come back, and get an hour later on?

I could have graciously accepted and quietly got a ticket of my own anyway, and not use her nominally generous offer, but the presiding argument for not doing it was that it was free!

I love free stuff.

So I said thank you, bundled the family out of the car, which anyone with a toddler can tell would account for about twelve of those minutes, and began the shop. After a bit, I realised I had to go back and replace the donated ticket for a legitimately purchased one, which I duly did. Later, whilst eating a healthy meatball and jalapeno sandwich, I worked out that I had saved myself a whopping 30p.

I was pleased with this saving until I realised that, if someone had offered to go and change the ticket for me for thirty pence, I would have gladly agreed, so in fact I had simply paid for a walk I didn't want.

Still, it was free, and that's the main thing.

We concluded our usual shopping business, which essentially involves me grumbling incessantly about the price of razors, avoided the Earnest Young Things collecting for Dreadlock Relief or something, before making our way back to the car store.

I once had a pubescent Parking Nazi* tell me I wasn't allowed to give someone my ticket, although I pointed out that I was, because I had hired that space in the car-park for a certain period of time, and it was up to me what vehicle I wanted to put in it. I know I've won a discussion when the alternative argument is a whine including the words "policy" and "I'll get my supervisor". Then I run off.

As I was leaving, I saw a Porsche, and was amazed at how much they now look like battered, elderly Ford Mondeos:

It's definitely a Porsche because it says so on the boot lid there. I was going to ask the driver what model it was, a Carerra maybe, or a 911, but he was one of those jet-setting playboy types with an almost new shellsuit and a tattoo of a swallow on his neck, so I didn't bother him in case he was on his way to an important meeting.

I may have altered the number-plate slightly. You can barely tell, but if you zoom in, some of the pixels are out of alignment.

* I have been told that using the term "Parking Nazi's" for wardens can be construed as offensive. By Nazis presumably.


  1. You used the word "widdershins", therefore you win. I'm not sure what you've won, but it's probably bloody good.

  2. The only way to get old biddies to hurry up is to scare them. I would have bared my teeth. You might have tried flashing.

  3. It is a known fact that if people see you waiting for a parking space,they will take twice as long to leave it.

  4. It was free, you cannot be blamed.

    Note to self: work the word 'monoxidey' into casual conversation this week.

  5. without Google, I have no idea of widdershins...

    I had no idea of the problems you English face when parking. As I remember it from 17 years ago, the colonies never suffered in the same manner.

    Brilliant as always Jules, just to let you know that I have retired the original NR, in favour of Life is Just Like That... my personal blog. The tack is a little different than in the past, it's more warts and all.

    Must get back to reading you more regularly, I so enjoy spilling my beer.


  6. So that was you. I thought I saw a hyperactive and frustrated looking doormouse screeching round the car park the other day. Damn rodents, I thought.

    Actually the other day I employed the waiting technique, someone slowly walked to their car, slowly got in, took their time starting the engine and painfully backed out. As they drove away they gave me the middle finger. Nice. But I got the space.

  7. Oooh, hearken on back to those uni days f stalking innocent students. ALthough I SWEAR some of them got wise after a while and would just spend their lunchtime strolling the carpark, irritating those of us frantically searching for a spot. Smug bastards.

  8. Hey Brother,

    I'll have to remember the "chugga chugga chugga chugga chuggington" chant the next time I pull into a parking garage.

    My slight peeve is that I always seem to encounter the person who upon arriving at their car, they somehow forget to put the key in and bugger off. Although it seems like a simple enough task, for those individuals it's just too much for their tiny brains.


  9. The Imagina Reviewer - I like winning things. Once, my mum told me I'd won a trip to the dentist, and the proze was a filling! Yay!

    GB - Probably wouldn't have scared her as much as I'd hope.

    thinkinfyou - True. I know I do.

    Eric - Thank you for understanding. HAve a monoxidey day.

    AV - You're always welcome here mate. You're new address has been noted.

    Mo - Actually, the latter was me there.

    omchelsea - I've been banned from stalking innnocent students. Now I just stalk the guilty ones.

    U - Aha, glad it's not just a UK thang. Same in petrol stations when they eat an ice lolly before vacating the pump.

  10. We dont have these parking problems in the colonies.. (Australia) I drive a huge, overly powerful Ford XBGT borrowed from my brother, it has what we refer to as a 'Bull Bar'..and as any Aussie will tell you is another word for 'Jap Crap Bar'. Woe to anyone who wont move fast enough to avoid twisted metal and grinding panels. You know! there are things you could learn from us down here....

  11. I can't tell you how disappointed I am that you drive a Focus.

  12. Pash - Bull bars were all the rage here for a few years, before some jobsworth pointed out the limited number of bulls on the roads in the UK, and they were subsequently banned for there enthusiastic pedestrian-biting habits.

    Mr London St - I'm thinking of writing "Bugatti Veyron" on the back so people think it's a Bugatti Veyron.

  13. "A vehicular pike in a tarmac canal"

    Thats awesome!

  14. "widdershins" is indeed deserving of some kind of award for best word ever.

    We call that parking lot waiting "vulturing". because you circle like a vulture looking for someone about to shuffle off.

  15. Do I get extra points with the parking gods for using SYNTHETIC oil over the chicken's claw?

    Great post!

  16. Powdergirl - I was though. Very pikey, me.

    Soda and Candy - Loving "vulturing"!

    Charlene - Well, it's a bit far from the natural world where the gods of parking reside, but I reckon it'd work. And ta!

  17. Just buy everything off the internet. Makes these things a dim and distant memory. Then you just have to deal with the postal nazis.

  18. Mdme DeF - But they know where you live!

  19. Free stuff has always been my weakness too. I believe I would have done exactly the same things you did.


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