Parking Lot Etiquette
November 25, 2004 12:09 PM   Subscribe

Ah ,the joys of the Holidays, and the joys of AskMe. Let's go. Who's the bigger parking lot asshole: The person who stalks pedestrians walking back to their cars, creeping ever slowly behind them, then honks at them for taking too long getting into their car and getting out of the space... Or the pedestrian who through a passive-aggressive protest, actually meanders around in their car just to piss off anybody waiting for their parking space? Have you ever done either of these? Do you have a personal Parking Lot etiquette, or is it everybody for themselves during the holidays? Personally, I get enjoyment out of purposely walking to the end of a lot about a mile past my car just for shits and giggles when I'm being lot stalked.
posted by Stan Chin to Travel & Transportation (43 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Probably the second. I read somewhere that this behavior (taking ones time when one knows that someone is waiting to take his spot) has something to do with an evolutionary territorial psychological response.

Personally, I think it has more to do with the North American "me first" attitude - "this is my spot until I move."

But man - I agree. Parking lots around this time stress me out, and I remember why I hate people so much. This morning, a guy zoomed into an open spot that had already been called (another lady was waiting with her signal light on - universal for "I call this spot"). This lady gets out of her car with her snow brush and starts hitting this guys car, screaming at him to move or she will "fucking rip his motherfucking head off." So awesome.

The absolute worst however is the person who, in a really busy parking lot, has to back into their spot. Grrrrr.
posted by Quartermass at 12:23 PM on November 25, 2004

I've never been stalked in a parking lot. (Not by someone who wanted the space I was parked in, that is. )

I've never even seen a parking lot full enough for that to happen.

What I do hate with a passion, though, is the asshole who parks in the fire lane, or anywhere else clearly marked 'NO PARKING'. Now that I'm older and more in control of my emotions, I'll usually just glare, but back when I was younger I'd snort back a big, nasty loogie and spit it onto the driver's door handle.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:28 PM on November 25, 2004

The most evil scum filth I've ever encountered are the ones who deliberately ram their front bumpers into shopping carts at high speed, then laugh like hyenas when the carts careen and mark up other peoples' vehicles. I've often seen this in suburban areas, but it's by no means exclusive to "townie" culture.

Next on the list would be "keyers" and the "hatchback half-pipers" that give skateboarding a bad name. But getting back to your original question, I'd say stalkers are probabally more obnoxious, since pedestrians may actually be waiting to pick someone up from work or shopping.
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:31 PM on November 25, 2004

I'm guily of both, though I've never honked at a pedestrian. Unfortunately, the first is often a necessary evil at XMas time, so I'd say the second is the bigger ass.
posted by trillion at 12:32 PM on November 25, 2004

I typically head for the hinterland corners of the lot, figuring that the time I save looking for a nearby spot more than makes up for any time it takes me to walk the extra few hundred feet.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:34 PM on November 25, 2004

Response by poster: Eh, I'm cool with expanding this whole question to anything that gives you Holiday Road Rage. Vent on.
posted by Stan Chin at 12:34 PM on November 25, 2004

Both are being asses, but I'd vote for the pedestrian because they're actively wasting someone's time.

The worst people though are those that try to zoom by while you're backing out of a parking space. If the reverse lights are on, I'm backing up, monkey-butt. Also, if you wait for me, you'll get a space. Why does this have to be so difficult?
posted by bonehead at 12:37 PM on November 25, 2004

I would say the stalker is being rude/inconsiderate, while the stalkee is being an asshole. Assholery comes down to intent.
posted by cardboard at 12:45 PM on November 25, 2004

No - The worst, and I mean lowest scum of the earth are the assholes running packages out to their cars, feigning a spot-free, but just dropping their shit and leaving again without a wave to let you know what they're doing. Same with people going to their cars to sit and wait for someone else to finish shopping. How about a quick courtesy wave, fuckwad? You see me stake my claim via the turnsignal method, how about a quick wave and "sorry, I'm not leaving"?

These people are an even lower form of life than the I-forgot-I-wanted-to-turn-left-here-thus-the-signal-as-the-light-goes-green folks.
posted by Keith Talent at 12:52 PM on November 25, 2004

Dave Barry had an excellent column on just this subject. Of course, I can't find it anywhere.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 1:46 PM on November 25, 2004

I'm torn. I love Stan Chin for his attitude but some compelling arguments are swaying me to give higher asshole marks to the dawdling pedestrian. I'll take this opportunity to float two things:

1. In a relatively empty lot, I enjoy parking my vehicle right next to the person who has parked far from others as a means o "protect their vehicle". I will even do this if it is cocked at some weird two-space angle. I'm not sure why I do it but I wish I could be a fly on the windshield when the person comes back to their car.

2. I think often about urban planning conditions and know that any real change in the landscape will come from either economics or planning/code restrictions. In the latter category, I would like to see a rule which states that, in any given jurisdiction, any parking space must have a clear pedestrian-only path to any possible destination. (Sounds impossible but the model already exists. You might live in this place: a town or city.)
posted by Dick Paris at 2:15 PM on November 25, 2004

Holiday parking psychology?

Aren't yanks weird?
posted by dash_slot- at 2:16 PM on November 25, 2004

You know, I've only been harrassed at a parking lot once (usually I love getting in and out as fast as possible). I was talking to a friend whom I just happened to run into. We were standing near out cars just catching up. We had close spaces and there were spaces available further away. Yet some old lady had the ovaries to just sit there waiting for us, I look up and give her a little "stop staring and move on" courtesy wave. She starts honking and yelling "are you just going to sit there and talk?" I politely informed her that indeed we would take our time, as I believe human relationships are more important than her getting a space close to the door.

And no, I don't blame either group. The stalker group may be annoying but they can follow me as long as they want as long as they don't expect me to hurry up so they can walk 50 feet less to the door. Of course, I don't purposely piss these peolple off, but no expectations should be had by either party if parking spaces are available.

Of course this is a great hot-button topic. You're combining the evils of cars, the evils of mass consumerism, and a greatly distroted Christian holiday all in one post. I commend you!
posted by geoff. at 2:18 PM on November 25, 2004

yes, these two choices are both evil, but let's add one more:

the pedestrian who is standing in an empty parking spot, while their friend has walked away to fetch their car - with an intent to eventually parking there.

The pedestriasshole just stands there, waiting many minutes for the friend to arrive, while waving away any other cars that want to park there.

My strict girl-school upbringing has prevented me from smashing my car into those passive-aggressive individuals.

Is this a Vancouver-only disease?
posted by seawallrunner at 2:28 PM on November 25, 2004

The worst people though are those that try to zoom by while you're backing out of a parking space. If the reverse lights are on, I'm backing up, monkey-butt. Also, if you wait for me, you'll get a space. Why does this have to be so difficult?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but, umm, you don't have the right of way in this scenario. If you slam into reverse without looking behind you, you're the one being a tool.

And the dawdler is the asshole. As long as you don't honk and make idiotic faces/gestures, there's nothing wrong with following pedestrians.
posted by drpynchon at 2:28 PM on November 25, 2004

When waiting for my wife, I'll occasionally pull the car halfway out of the spot and then back in to give people false hope.

(Okay, no, but I've thought about it.)
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 2:32 PM on November 25, 2004

I'll often go up to a random car in a really good spot, like right beside the main entrance door, and pretend that it's mine as I fumble through my keys, then stop, stare at the mall, and then suddenly bolt away.

(Okay, no, but it'd be a lark.)
posted by five fresh fish at 2:49 PM on November 25, 2004

Of the two examples originally presented, I'd say if there are other spaces available, then the person doing the stalking is being more of an asshole, but if there aren't, then the person delaying him/herself for the purpose of irritating the person waiting is more of an asshole. The stalking thing always bugs me more though 'cause it's usually just someone being lazy and always a little creepy.

What's worse, to me, than any of that though is when people park in the hash marks (or whatever those blue diagonal lines are called) next to handicap spaces. This really pisses me off to no end. Those hash marks are there so that vans designed for the disabled have a space for the ramp someone in a wheel chair is going to need to roll down out of his/her car. When some dipshit parks in the hash marks, that ramp doesn't have room to come down, meaning the disabled person has to find somewhere else to park and hope there's still space for the ramp when he/she comes back or, if someone parked in the hash marks after the disabled person had already parked and left, that he/she is going to need someone else to either move the illegally parked car or his/her own van in order to get back in the van. It's so stupid. Do some people just not stop to think why that's not a parking space in the first place?
posted by DyRE at 3:11 PM on November 25, 2004

The worst is shopping center designers who don't give a thought to people actually having to _get_ to their cars, and thus make you perform the parking lot equivalent of broken field running, while dodging 5000lb linebackers(SUVs) and the occasional 2000lb safety(that old granny in the hatchback).

And of course, once you've almost arrived at the entrance, you get to play life-sized Frogger to cross the access road(moat) between you and the mall.

But to answer the question, sharks are more annoying, simply because in doing the "Slow crawl behind a walker" thing, they obstruct the traffic lanes and make it that much more difficult for me to get to my preferred parking spot in outer Mongolia.

posted by madajb at 3:21 PM on November 25, 2004

Walking back to my car in an unfull lot I've done the thing where I slow down by one of the first few cars and get my keys out of my pocket, knowing that somebody is vulturing me for the spot. Then I slowly start walking again towards my car, sometimes I'll even stop a second time. It only takes 3 or 4 seconds of my time, but it puts a big smile on face. Sometimes I wish I had a more zen approach to life, but often it's the little things in life that are so rewarding.
I won't do it in a crowded lot because I know that sometimes it seems like that's the ONLY way to get a spot. But when there are visibly open spots less than fifteen cars away, you shouldn't be blocking traffic in the lane because you want that spot that's even closer. Some people act like you get a trophy at the end of your life it you had enough "parking scores".
posted by HifiToaster at 3:22 PM on November 25, 2004

the pedestrian who is standing in an empty parking spot, while their friend has walked away to fetch their car - with an intent to eventually parking there.

I have never seen that one, but that would drive me totally nuts. I'm a very calm person in almost every aspect of my life and usually have no problem putting everything in perspective. But for some reason when I'm in my car I ramp up so fast and I let things that I know don't matter piss me off. I've leveled out as I've gotten older, but I still have consciously remind myself that "it just doesn't' matter" when somebody cuts me off, drives on the shoulder, or some other driving offense that isn't actually potentially causing harm
posted by HifiToaster at 3:27 PM on November 25, 2004

I've rigged my car so that I can hit the lock button on my keychain and the reverse and brake lights come on and stay on for ten minutes. I have tinted windows, so they can't tell that I'm inside shopping. I love watching people wait for me to "come out of my space."

I don't really have this set-up, but I wish I did. I had one encounter where someone pulled into a space I was waiting for with my blinker on. It was an end spot, so I was able to park my car behind his without him being able to get out. I parked my car, walked up to his window to tell him what I was doing and politely gave him the opportunity to relinquish the space. Amazingly, he did. I don't think I would have tried this if he hadn't been driving a Miata, but it felt good having him move.
posted by Frank Grimes at 4:29 PM on November 25, 2004

The MeFi consensus appears to be that taking one's time walking through a parking lot on the way to the car is the mark of an asshole. Question: am I also being an asshole when I walk through the parking lot to the bus stop without alerting the sharks that I'm not going to be opening up a parking space? It's not as if I'm weaving through the lot or walking slowly or anything; I just don't find it necessary to tell anyone that my packages and I are headed for the bus.

And if it changes your answer, yes, I do derive a distinct pleasure from this habit.
posted by Acetylene at 4:32 PM on November 25, 2004

I hated being stalked in carparks when I lived in the States - it was, to me, a fairly explicit way of rushing me when I didn't want to be rushed. And since I'm generally a passive-aggressive person (in the process of growing out of it), I'd quite deliberately take my time walking back in the hope that they'd give up. I've never seen it in any other country, either, but I also don't see that "must park as close to the door as possible to walk the shortest possible distance" mentality in many other places either. Once I got the hang of it, I'd deliberately park far away and leave the carpark stalkers to follow everyone else. Or they'd follow me, see how far I was walking, and go away again. Heh.
posted by tracicle at 4:33 PM on November 25, 2004

Dawdling isn't being an asshole. Dawdling with intent is being an asshole unless the waiting driver has done something to piss me off. Stalkers are assholes unless the parking lot is completely full.

What I don't understand is when people block traffic, steal spots, drive at a crawl, or park in the midst of a driving lane in half empty parking lots.
posted by rdr at 5:09 PM on November 25, 2004

I vote for the stalker. Generally the assholes who do this also don't seem to note or care that they're also inconveniencing the four cars who are stuck behind them unable to pass and continue their hunt for a space while Joe Selfimportant waits for the space he considers his.

When I get stalked, I am the second asshole, if only to act as revenge for all the times I've been stuck behind the first asshole. Yes, it inconveniences any people behind him (in which case I usually -- but not always -- avoid stalling), but even if I do stall, hopefully they end up hating the prick who's making everyone else wait while he gets his precious near-in space, rather than the guy with an armful of packages trying to get settled in his car.
posted by jammer at 5:47 PM on November 25, 2004

I think the biggest Parking Lot A-Hole is this guy, who is Holding It Down.

Courtesy of Ebaums' World.
posted by hughbot at 5:51 PM on November 25, 2004

I vaguely remember this stuff from when I lived in Connecticut, but here in the rural midwest I have not witnessed purposefully rude public behavior in years.
posted by LarryC at 6:54 PM on November 25, 2004

I am with fff on this one. I would rather park in the asphalt version of the north forty than deal with this sort of crap.
posted by konolia at 8:29 PM on November 25, 2004

I typically head for the hinterland corners of the lot, figuring that the time I save looking for a nearby spot more than makes up for any time it takes me to walk the extra few hundred feet.


See, 90% of parking lot rage is directly attributable to the fact that people are willing to drive around for an extra ten minutes just so that they can park a hundred feet closer to the front door of the mall. I have personally witnessed this countless times: folks driving around and around trying to find a parking space close to the entrance when there are dozens of spaces a few hundred feet farther away...

I live in Ann Arbor. When Michigan plays home games, something like 50,000 people drive in for the game and have to find parking. People who live in the neighborhood charge game-goers to park in their driveways and on their lawns. Those who live within a block or two of the stadium charge $40 - that's right, forty dollars - for parking. But if you're willing to walk for an extra five minutes, you can park for $10 or $15. In fact, if you're willing to walk about half a mile, you can park for free. And, there is no hassle when you leave, since you don't have to deal with 49,000 other people who have also parked close to the stadium. And yet, every game, like clockwork, tens of thousands of people (for real, I'm not kidding) shell out $40 for the privilege of reducing their total walking time by ten minutes, while increasing their time spent waiting in traffic by about twenty.

Conclusion: Americans are really f***ed up when it comes to parking.
posted by googly at 8:30 PM on November 25, 2004

Am I the only one who actually tries to be helpful in crowded parking situations? Jesus christ, what is wrong with you assholes!? Are you really collectively that bitter and passive-aggressive? This is like the most petty, delusional, hostile behavior evar!1 When walking to my car in a crowded lot, and sensing that someone is following me to my spot, I will acknowledge said person, and point toward the general direction of my car. What benefit would I have to lollygag and meander (waste of precious time), and why would I wish random malice on a fellow consumer? It’s just counterproductive. You’re like trying to play ‘Parking-lot Zeus’ or something…

Maybe my cooperative attitude is because I’m a train commuter M-F, and only use my car on the weekends? Am I missing some sort of imposed parking protocol that insists that you be a dick to the needy faction? Am I missing out on some sort of smug self-satisfaction derived from being an ass to random strangers? Help me understand, please. This is no way a criticism…but I see I’m definitely in the minority, and frankly, I’m quite surprised that people are so submissively manipulative towards something so insignificant.
posted by naxosaxur at 8:42 PM on November 25, 2004

btw, I hope there are no fellow mefites who shop at my local mall! ;p
posted by naxosaxur at 8:44 PM on November 25, 2004

googly: Those same people must be the ones paying $30 to park and wait at the Kentucky Derby.

Forget the driver and pedestrian in the question -- mr crash davis chose the worst culprit - the ones parked in the fire lane.

I'm also way too old to spit on the door handle. That's why I just stack a few carts around the car.
posted by ?! at 8:51 PM on November 25, 2004

I've never actually thought of doing this. Sounds like a great idea. Okay, maybe not.

Two holiday driving habits that piss me off:

#1. Filling up roads that are normally not full because you "need" to go to 2000000 different stores to shop for 3 gifts. One of the best ways I take to work goes from 70 km/h to -5 km/h because of these morons. Shop like I do. I decide what I want *before* I go to the mall and/or store (notice the lack of pluralization). I go there, buy up all the gifts I need, and I have all my holiday shopping done in under 2 hours. AWESOME.

#2. People who lose their minds while driving during the holidays. For example, a road on my way from work has not less than SIX signs on it saying "right turns only". What do christmas morons do? LET'S GO STRAIGHT INSTEAD. Now I'm in the left lane trying to go straight legally so I can shift one lane right immediately after the light, and I have to bully these morons into stopping so I can make the right turn into the shop across the road. I nearly cried tears of joy when I finally saw one of these retards get a police cruiser tailing them. Please God I hope the ticket is for Dangerous Driving or DUI or something that keeps them off the road for the next 50 years.

Ahhh well. As far as "stalking" goes, I suppose it's happened to me and my "couldn't care less" attitude has just kept me from caring. Honestly, don't get so worked up about it! :-D
posted by shepd at 8:56 PM on November 25, 2004

naxosaxur: altruistic punishment might explain some of the behavor that seems to anger you so.

hughbot: thanks for the video. I'd really love to know what had that man so upset. Even though I understood every time he said "know what I'm saying" I couldn't tell you what the hell he was saying.
posted by ?! at 8:59 PM on November 25, 2004

ouch. naxosaxur scores a bulleye with that callout, on me at least. I don't think I've been sharked, but if I were, I'm not sure I'd always be kind about it. If it creeped me out, I'd probably be nasty. There's a very good chance I'd just never be aware of it, I can be a bit clueless that way. I think I'd actually be a little surprised if I pointed them ahead &c...
posted by five fresh fish at 9:29 PM on November 25, 2004

?! thanks for the link. Apparently, this irrational revenge isn't so irrational afterall, and derives the same pleasure as "sniffing cocaine or seeing a beautiful face". Random and scattered comparisons, but i'll take it.
posted by naxosaxur at 9:29 PM on November 25, 2004

Stalking isn't a bad thing as long as\s you do it properly. When you spot a potential "victim", roll down the window and ASK if they're leaving. This sifts out the false-positives, who stash their purchases in the trunk before heading back into the mall.

I hate people who are passive-aggressive with strangers. Save the facade and seething hate for your closest loved ones, please.
posted by LimePi at 12:00 AM on November 26, 2004

Maybe Australian parking culture is slightly different, but the shopping centres (malls) in Brisbane don't give me the negative view of stalking that most of the other posters have. Most of the major malls in my city are always packed to the gills every Saturday morning, and even in the far reaches of the car park, it will always be packed. That being said, the practice of stalking is quite common.

The part that makes it better, though, is that most drivers are willing to wind their windows down and actually ask "Hey, are you guys leaving?" Most pedestrians will either politely say no if they aren't, and some will actually direct you to where they're parked. The actual human interaction makes the process easier, instead of the ridiculous passive-aggresive behaviour that causes all those dumbass accidents.

I do dislike the people who can't park their vehicles within their lines, and I have a growing hatred for four-wheel drives (SUVs), especially when I see their massive bullbars at the same height as my head in my compact car.
posted by chronic sublime at 12:11 AM on November 26, 2004

Please limit comments to answers or help in finding an answer.

Really, Naxosaxur. ;-)
posted by Dick Paris at 8:15 AM on November 26, 2004

The part that makes it better, though, is that most drivers are willing to wind their windows down and actually ask "Hey, are you guys leaving?"

I get this from people quite often, and I don't mind it. I've also had people wait at the exit and offer to give me a ride back to my car so that they could take my spot.

But then, I've also seen a guy have his girlfriend get out and stand in a parking spot so that he could drive around the lot again and then back into the spot. That was assholery at it's finest.
posted by LionIndex at 8:34 AM on November 26, 2004

You're not alone Naxosaxur, I do the same.

Do people who sit in their cars, balancing their checkbooks while people wait for their spot annoy me? Yes. But it isn't worth too much of my thought. Afterall, it's their bad karma, not mine.

People who "stalk" me as I walk to my car don't annoy me, they scare me. They're protected by a couple of tons of metal, I'm protected by my lightweight Italian leather jacket. Not exactly an even match. I don't put anything past someone obsessed with a "good" parking spot, so I try not to annoy these drivers.

When I'm looking for a spot in a crowded lot, I will non-aggresively pull along a person who appears to be heading for their car. I ask them very nicely if they are leaving and if it would be okay if I follow them to their spot. No one has ever said no and they tend to vacate their spot faster than other people.

When I'm walking to my car and see people looking for spots, I will wave at them and point in the direction of my spot. I do admit that a bit of passive-aggressiveness does come out in this situation because I tend to pick n'choose the drivers that I will point to my spot. I usually help people who fit into any of these categories: eldery, driving an older car, mom w/kids, person of color. I guess I use it as a way to level the playing field.
posted by Juicylicious at 4:41 PM on November 26, 2004

The guy in the car is the asshole. I say this because he's menacing a pedestrian with his large, heavy vehicle. When one of these shitheels starts rolling along behind me like he wants to bugger me with his bumper, I come to a complete stop. Then I wait several seconds. Then I turn around, gain eye contact, and silently mouth "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?" to the driver.

Usually they will extricate their bumper from my bunghole and wander away.
posted by majick at 8:06 AM on November 27, 2004

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