We all know there are two kinds of people on this planet. Type Ones are people who see a car as merely a box with wheels, only a tool for transportation from point A to point B; Type Twos are people who see that same car as a freedom portal that functions not only as a pack mule with a motor but does so as a statement of style and personality.
Guess which one I am.
Yep. The problem starts from the beginning for me. First, I rarely want to go just from point A to point B. And miss all the fun and adventure between? Deny the appeal of the open road? Nah.
And the car. So much more than mere transportation to me. No, it is instead an extension of myself. Billy Boy on wheels. It is mine. I know it well. I have come to trust it. I don’t put stripes on it (no stripes on my cars after turning 30…tacky, very tacky). I keep it clean. I try to dodge the door dings.
In fact, if you ever come upon my car filled with brown, mushy apple cores, McDonald’s Breakfast Burrito wrappers, stale less-desirable nuts ditched from a Costco trail mix, hardened spray cheese, and miscellaneous Star Wars action figures, please find me and help me for I am sick. Seriously. The condition of my car speaks directly to how things are going for me personally. A car-ometer as it were. Sorry. The academic term for that phenomenon is from the nonverbal communication field of proxemics. That area includes the study of personal space and territory. Edward T. Hall says territory refers to the area a person may “lay claim to” and defend against others. That’s it. And I do.
I like to keep my personal territories neat and sharp. Goes for my car, my scooter, my goatee, and my desk at work. Areas I alone control. Sure they all get a bit unkempt occasionally but they don’t stay that way for long. This is where I’m not sure whether I’m discussing my parking lot pedagogy or pathology. And I’m stretching the definitions of both. After all, language is arbitrary. Just wanted you to know I know that.
Also, I believe this car thing is completely hereditary. It’s not my fault. Congenital car-losophy. I’ve seen evidence for five generations. Plenty of evidence. Even before the day my grandfather handed the keys to a ’64 Chevy Impala to an unlicensed, uninsured but somewhat responsible 15-year old and said “go.” I went. And I polished. And I buffed. And I polished. And I customized. And I polished.
My mother no doubt contributed to my vehicular pathology by actually waxing my Tonka trucks when I was just a little go-cart. I understand that better now…not much was orderly and under her control…but my Tonka trucks were, blast it! Missed a spot, Mom!
As a 16-year old, I was often accused of waxing the paint off my red 1967 Volkswagen Beetle (later, similar comments were made about the shining habits of my son Ben and his jewel-like red 1996 Honda Civic. Sorry, Ben. You inherited my hairline, Armor All, and Mother’s Premium Paste Wax. When I die you can have my scooter, too. Yes, it will be okay to trade it in). And my 2-1/2 year old grandson Josiah can tell a Honda from a VW from a “Soob-a-woo” just by the logo on the trunk. Another lap for legacy.
I have no harsh disdain for those Type Ones who simply drive their cars, use them as lockable Rubbermaid Brute trash cans, and park them just anywhere. Instead, I extend grace to them while modeling a better way. I recognize you might be one of those people who flings open your car door like your seat’s on fire and about to toast your biscuits, creating permanent evidence of your trip on my car’s sheet metal. That’s okay. My world view allows for that.
So, enough of my pathology. On to my parking lot pedagogy. Be advised there are many benefits to what I share here. Number one, of course, is a car with fewer battle scars. It looks better and is worth more. Real life cha-ching. Number two is weight loss. You, not the car. I’m not kidding. I wear a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps a day, made more attainable by my car-parking strategy. Number three is time savings, as you throw out driving round and round a parking lot, jockeying to get close to whatever building you’re visiting. Here’s a side tip, no extra charge. At a mall, always head for the Sears store. No one goes there these days so there’s often plenty of room. Sad, but true. Check it out.
The first Bill Boggs Parking Lot principle is head for the wide open spaces. The John Wayne Axiom, pilgrim. I simply try to park my car far away from everyone else’s cars. Common sense, right? You see, my car is not human with human wants and needs. Yes, I realize that, thank you. My car does not require an automotive community complete with meaningful touch and connection with others of its kind. Apparently some drivers, though, think their cars are lonely. They slide in sardine-like next to other cars, almost hoping for some kind of actual contact. I’ve personally experienced parking my car all by itself in a nearly empty lot only to see another driver aim right for the spot next to me and move to an inch or two from my door.
Is it my car’s coconut air freshener that draws them in? A whiff of BP regular unleaded, my brand of preference? No, it must be my Ford Full-Synthetic Oil…Mustang musk, Oily Old Spice. Vehicular pheromones at work perhaps. Disgusting. And futile. Companionship, romance, I’m not sure which, but just like for humans, this kind of parking lot sparking often leaves permanent scars.
Picturing an imaginary force field at least a car length around my car in every direction also helps. This of course, is The Force Axiom. I even try to imagine where other cars might park during the time I’m in my chosen space. I just close my eyes a moment and visualize the lot at peak park time. There! A good spot, this is, hmmmm? And no, it’s not some new age thing or some kind of hot rod existentialism. Just park-and-drive practicality. I accept I will have to walk but that is good….pedometer, remember? 10,000 steps to svelteness. I told you.
My son, Ben, a high-level car connoisseur in his own right who has heartily embraced his automotive heritage, has his own simple, direct philosophy similar to The Force Axiom. Ben said, “I look for spots that have at least an empty spot on all sides of the car and (this is important) it can’t be anywhere near a cart corral. Those things are just trouble! Although I’ll tell you with the Bullitt (his beautiful 2001 Ford Mustang GT Bullitt Edition)…I just stay away from everything (if possible).” Indeed. Good advice, Ben.
What if the lot is fairly full? I then aim to park next to a concrete island (the Wiki-Wiki Axiom), and angle in slightly with the passenger door side next to the island, being careful not to scrape the tire and wheel against the curb.
That way, I’m playing the odds that most cars carry only a driver. The next car will likely pull in with its passenger door facing my driver door. No passenger to hop out, whacking my door in the process. Sometimes, though, I am faced with parking conventionally, in a space between two cars. It’s awful, I know. Sometimes it has to be done. I then try to pick a spot between two nice cars…clean, dent-free, well kept. Pull in as far from both cars as possible and hope for the best. Like having a poo-poo platter at a Maui luau.
Yes, my car is my own pack mule, freedom portal and personal territory. I will defend it with the crazy thinking process God gave me. I have once again bared my inner thoughts–this time to make the world a place with fewer door dings. Consider my advice. Remember the three axioms…John Wayne, The Force, and Wiki-Wiki.
Your car will be nicer and more valuable. You’ll shed a few pounds and save an hour a week. I’m only slightly kidding.
Okay then. Just filled up. Got a mini detail. Time to escape. No speeding tickets in the Mustang yet. Vroom!