Monday, 25 June 2007

Parking rights

The orange light is permanently on at the petrol gauge on the dashboard, so it's time to fill up at the service station. And for some reason, there are lots of queues. So I dutifully park in line 7 where we are next in line for the pump, and I can chat to Ermintrude about how I might say in French, 'I have no money, could you pay for the petrol?'

While we are waiting, the man in front of me wants to reverse. Tsk, I think, he's just too impatient to wait for the man in front of him to come back from the shop after paying and drive on. Tsk Tsk. How impatient.

I reverse anyway, and give him a good space to come out. Then a man in a van suddenly drives straight ahead of me, into the space I just made. This is too much. I am enraged. I leap out of the car and shout 'Why am I here?' I start to gabble. 'I'm reversing! I have reversed because he reversed! And he reversed to get out! So I reversed! You stole my space!'

I can hear Ermintrude tittering nervously, sat in the passenger seat. As I'm gesticulating and demanding, pointing at the van and the space that's not there, I'm thinking, this is nothing, Ermintrude. Really. You should have been there the day outside John Lewis when I was forced to begin the campaign against people who do not have children, yet who park in parent and child spaces.

Now I reckon I am not the only parent who is upset by this inconsiderate behaviour. There are probably websites of rage dedicated to the gits who park in parent and child spaces when they clearly have no children. This is how my campaign started.

Shark, Squirrel and Tiger were less than a year old. They were still in their triplet buggy, and it was no small matter to push that thing with three fattened baby dollops in it. Especially in the cold, sleeting rain, in the darkening afternoon skies of December. And through a car park at that, because like most car parks outside shopping centres, there's no pedestrian walkway, and if there is, the triple buggy - at the width of a mini - is too wide to get down it. I'd already sat in my car, opposite a parent and child space outside the store, waiting for an occupant to leave, and then they indicated no, so off I went, returning 20 minutes later, wet and exhausted with the walk from the far side of the car park, with Shark, Squirrel and Tiger complaining and kicking, fussing about the rainhood which it's taken me 10 minutes to fit.

And what do I see? A sleek black Mazda, sitting in the parent and child space I'd waited for. I looked inside. Immaculate. No biscuit crumbs. No food rotting in the upholstery. No chewed toys, hanging from the rear seats. No baby seats. No Mr Floppy Bear hanging with his paw trapped in the door. No blankies, wet wipes, teething rings, buggy scratches. No evidence of any child at all. That did it.

It was a sacrifice Shark had to make. Despite the cold and the rain, I got her out from her seat, pulled down her Baby Gaps and ripped her nappy off. Then I squished that sodden stinking nappy underneath the windscreen wiper.

I did that until all the children were out of nappies. And when everyone was happy on the toilet, I carried around a pack of nappies in the back of the car specifically for the purpose. I never got to see the pay-off, the look of horror on the owners of those Mazdas and Mercs and upmarket cars with their clean upholstery. But I did get the gratification of hearing the contents of toddler bottoms slide across the windscreens.

So believe me, Ermintrude, asking a man to move his van is nothing, really. And he reversed it and let me have my space back. As of course I'd expect of any decent, considerate citizen.


Em said...

The only thing worse than people that park in parent/child spaces with no children, is disabled people that try to park in parent/child spaces. I have been the subject of abuse from a disabled person because I was parked in a parent/child space they deemed to be a disabled persons space (despite the big sign of parent and child, actually as an aside, it was a picture of a mother and a baby, which must piss off countless fathers with babies) anyway big row insued, with me getting out of my car to shout back at said un-disabled person (because his wife was far too disabled apparently to fight her own non-battles) until suitably ashen, he went away admitting that yes as a mother with children perhaps I was more entitled to park there than him, and perhaps yes, he could actually park in the disabled bay that I pointed out to him only more two spaces down.

Could have done with a dirty nappy about then.

grit said...

i think we should start a campaign of 'park in your own space'; we could have hierarchies - the fitness enthusiasts can have the furthest away, persons in high heels can have spaces near the shoe shops and divorcing couples can have extra wide spaces so they can argue about which side they should park on. Thinking about it, we could have singles parking, where you must be single and actively looking aged between 30 and 45 to park. i'm starting to see potentials for this idea now...