Fun with the parking lot search

By Steve Estes


Strictly Drivel by Steve Estes

And just when I thought it was safe to cruise through the shopping center parking lot again, I am reminded that it doesn’t have to be an out-of-town car or driver to make all of our lives miserable.

For several years, the shopping center parking lot here on Big Pine had one single space that was close to the entrance door and not a handicapped only space. I watched many a dance of Detroit iron trying to figure out a way to get to that spot. Then, they made that single space a handicapped space and the daily potential metal twisting ballet was over.

Now there are three spaces on two aisles that are near the stores, and for some unknown reason are not painted blue, signifying handicapped spaces. These have become the latest targets of what I like to refer to as the “unable to walk my legs are both broken” crowd that seems to be so much more prevalent today than they were even five years ago, and definitely more prevalent today than they were 20 years go.

I know you’ve seen them. They’re the drivers that will spend 30 minutes cruising the parking lot waiting for a space to open up that is right in front of the store they wish to visit. This gets so bad at times that the various drivers will miss appointments or watch the store they want close before they have found that perfect parking space. And then they walk up and bang on the front door trying to get let in, eventually storming off in a huff that there’s no one around to let them in after hours because they cruised the parking lot for 30 or 40 minutes waiting for a parking space that was convenient.

And they vow never to patronize that store again. Go figure that one.


I saw quite the dance the other day when I was trying to get into Winn Dixie on a typical late afternoon. I will have to admit that I am one of those aggressive drivers. Over the years I have gotten quite tired of waiting for other people to make up their mind and decide what they’re going to do. It has nothing to do with a lack of patience, it has to do with making sure I’m well out of the way before this ding-a-ling can cause a major catastrophe. That attitude behind the wheel has kept me out of trouble for more than 28 years.

This particular day, a youngster who probably shouldn’t have been behind the wheel to start with because he didn’t have enough maturity to be able to make a decision, let alone the right one, and was definitely young enough to have walked the extra 15 feet, really wanted that space up front. There were two of the six remaining. He wasn’t going to settle for the one further away. He wanted the one right up front. I was coming in from the Key Deer Blvd. side. He was coming in from the Wilder Road side. Another vehicle was headed that general direction from the southernmost Key Deer entrance, and yet another was homing in from the southernmost Wilder Road entrance. It was shaping up to be quite the “chicken” episode.

I personally don’t care if I get one of those spots or not. Walking another 20 or 30 feet is probably good for me, and it keeps me and my vehicle out of trouble. But, like everyone else, unfortunately, sometimes I just can’t resist doing the dance.

I sped up just a little so that I would arrive at the opening to the row the same time as our young friend. This of course forced him to think about whether he should stop or take the chance I wouldn’t run him over. He needed a left turn, which gave me the right of way. I admit I had a little bit of a mean streak going so I took my time before I signaled him to go ahead in front of me. He whipped into the row, only to meet the car coming from the southernmost Key Deer entrance who didn’t wait to either give or get the right of way and slipped right into the spot further away from the store.

That must have confused our youngster and he overshot the closest space. Once he had done that, the car coming from the southernmost Wilder entrance had a clear shot into the close space and was in it in seconds.

Our aggressive youngster wound up parking four spaces further away and walking that extra 30 feet. I parked on the far side of him, and just to be a butthead, parked as close to the yellow line separating parking spaces as I could. Since he was as close as he could get to missing his space on my side, that left about eight inches for him to open the door and crawl in the vehicle.

Should I feel bad about that…probably.

Do I? Nah.

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