In the church parking lot, there are 5 handicapped spots near the north door. There are two gaps through which people walk. Sometimes, someone parks in a gap, despite the No Parking sign painted on the asphalt. The encounter went like this:
Me: This isn’t a parking spot.
Her: Well, my husband has been unwell.
Me: I’m sorry about that, but it’s still not a spot.
And I walked away. I didn’t want to get spun up into the righteous indignation that occurs when the someone starts justifying why the parking rules don’t apply to them. I walk to church, I don’t have the pressures of where to park in the too-small parking lot. People also park on the thoroughfares that are painted with arrows indicating the direction of traffic, yaknow, to discourage you from thinking they’re a parking spot. Because desperate times call for desperate parking, I guess. But when people park in the No Parking spots amidst the handicapped spots, it really frosts my cookie. Someone must be the sword of Ghod with the parking. The line is here. No further.
Sometimes, Ghod asks you to do things you don’t understand. Like set up an animal husbandry program on a giant boat that you have to build yourself. Stuff like that. Sometimes, he just wants his flock to park inside the bloody lines. Those are the spots. That’s how it is. When they’re full, they’re full. You have to go somewhere else. When there were no spots left at the inn, Mary and Joseph didn’t just decide that they were setting up camp in the innkeeper’s courtyard, did they? No. They did not.
Alas, it’s not me that wields the Parking Sword of Ghod. But it does piss me off when people feel entitled enough to just decide that the Social Contract of Parking Lots doesn’t apply to them.
When I was flying home from vacation last year, a big storm cell blew through, over the Tampa airport, and my flight was delayed. The airplane that had just arrived could not be pulled up to the gate because they couldn’t risk having the grounds crew out on the tarmac when there was lightning within a certain perimeter. Because the plane couldn’t de-plane, it was pushing us back too. There was a woman who was losing her mind. Why can’t they just go out there and do their jobs? It’s not raining now. This is what’s wrong with the world. She was going to be late getting home and for what? Caution. Life is about risks. The staff at the gate tried for a bit to settle her, but at “I’m OK with risking someone else’s life” they stopped entertaining her.
Same flight: Someone showed up late to board the plane. The cabin crew informed her that there’s no room in the overhead compartment for her giant carry-on, so she’d have to check it. This was simply not acceptable. How dare they. She neeeeeee-eeeeded that bag full of duty free stuff while she was traveling.
By some stroke of… something, these two were seated within a few seats of each other. They commiserated about how awful their lives were and created a plan about what they would be DEMANDING from the flight staff to make up for their inconvenience. One should be compensated for weather, and the other, for being late to board. Because they paid for their tickets, damnit.
The staff didn’t even wilt at their tantrums. There was a bit of “Sorry you feel that way, no you can’t speak to the pilot. Sure you can call customer service if you want. But not right now because it’s time to turn off devices.”
Every time I witness a grown adult’s spectacular display of entitlement, I examine my own conscience. I have lost my mind at Rogers (6 month) refusal to cancel my mobile service (despite their assurance that they would this time for real). I’ve told Hudson’s Bay exactly what my (poor) experience in their store was like. But I’ve also told my organic produce bin delivery guy that if he couldn’t get to my house because the weather turned, that I would much rather that he was safe than my delivery was promptly at 6:15.
It’s arrogant for me to think that I’ve never been that exhausted woman with the sick husband in the church parking lot or the woman who reallyReally just wanted to get home from vacation before she fell apart. I hope that I’ve behaved differently, but I understand how you get there.
This Lent, may I be generous with my empathy, and stingy with my judgement.