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Think Twice about Double Parking

I know that my readers live in different communities and to them, double-parking will have slightly different meanings. For the point of this exercise it won’t matter because the underlying principles are the same.  Let’s start by giving a basic idea for those who may not drive, or don’t experience double-parking in their areas. 

The basic double-park happens when someone is parked near a curb at the side of the street and someone else parks next to them, further into the street. It is not a real parking spot, but people do it when they need to go inside a store for example, just for a brief time, and there are no other spots available.

In areas where they clean the streets on certain days, people will opt for parking on the other side of the street, next to other cars, so they don’t block the street cleaner and get a hefty ticket.

What’s wrong with that you ask?

Well, for starters, it’s illegal. It takes up space in the road that is meant for traffic to pass by and is simply not permitted. In fact, you may still end up getting a parking ticket. Then, you also have to figure that you’re potentially blocking someone in.

I had that experience one day when I was trying to leave work in New York City. I saw that a plumbing van had parked directly next to me. With cars parked in front of me and behind me, there was no way to get out!

Thankfully, he had only just parked and not yet gone into the apartment building where he was going to work and I was able to get him to move to let me out, though he wasn’t cheerful about it. What if he’d already been inside and in the middle of a job? Then I’d have been stuck, frustrated and angry, and miss the appointment I had. I’m sure he didn’t think about that when he pulled up, and that’s my point. 

Double-parking, besides for the laws against it, often shows a distinct lack of thought towards others. Has the double-parker thought about how his or her car’s placement will affect the people parked legally? The people trying to traverse the street on which they are stopped? Sure, it’s “just for a minute” but even that minute could be a big deal to others.

Another type of double-parking, more prevalent in Monsey where I live, and other suburban areas where there are parking lots, is sitting in the Fire Lane in front of a store rather than pulling into a parking space. Again, it’s a big illegal no-no. More than just inconveniencing people, it could be a safety hazard if fire trucks needed to use those spots.

Now, most people who do this will tell you, “But I’m just sitting there. If a fire truck comes, I’ll move!” That may be so, but it won’t work for the people who park in the fire lanes and leave a child or someone else in the passenger seat while the driver goes inside. They’re thinking about the policeman who might come ticket them, but not the fact that their car is a road obstacle.

Even if the driver sits in the car, it can cause problems. There’s one shopping plaza I frequent which often has cars double-parked in this way. When a car is trying to back out of a spot, the double-parked car often just sits there, even though it’s harder for the other car to move. In fact, once I was trying to pull out of a spot and instead of moving so I had enough space, the driver had the chutzpah to honk at me so that I shouldn’t hit their car! Believe me, I saw you. I was “blessing” you the entire time I was trying to get out with great difficulty and without an accident.

When traffic is trying to pass these double-parked individuals, it can create a nasty snarl as people are waiting to get into spots, have no place to wait, and frustration and a honking symphony ensue.

My daughters’ bus drops off at such a shopping plaza. Instead of pulling into spaces, oblivious parents often double-park in the fire lane, blocking traffic and on several occasions, even making it impossible for the bus to get to its regular stop! What is it about people? Why do they do this?

The answer is simple. It’s not natural for people to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. We figure, “I’ll just be a minute,” or “I’m just one car, they can go around.” We aren’t cognizant of how we affect others. A friend told me how he waited outside his son’s yeshivah for the handicapped space to open up. When one spot finally did, he saw a woman parked in another spot without any tag. He asked if she had one. “No, but I’m not parked, I’m just waiting here.”

What do our children see when they watch us park and act in ways that are selfish and insensitive? True, we may even say, “I shouldn’t do this, but…” but they get the message loud and clear that it’s OK to put ourselves first and others a distant second. Ironically, this is the opposite of what we want them to learn. We want them to be thoughtful, sharing individuals, who will put themselves out for others.

The only way to do that is to make a conscious effort to set an example of how we want them to behave. We are supposed to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and imagine how they’d feel. So, the next time you’re tempted to double-park, either literally or figuratively, think twice – once about yourself, and once (or twice) about those you will be affecting. If you do that, you will always find yourself in the right spot.

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