I was utterly bemused a couple of weeks ago when I returned to my car after visiting a relative to find a note tucked under the wiper instructing me NEVER to park in that spot again. My initial reaction was to laugh and look around for the culprit, who was surely known to me and winding me up. When there was no sign of a familiar face grinning at me, I became slightly bewildered but seeing as I wasn’t blocking anyone’s driveway, parking on double yellow lines or committing any other obvious misdemeanour – and bearing in mind that the note wasn’t a parking ticket, just a scrap of paper with the message and date printed in capital letters – I presumed it was some bizarre attempt at a joke and put the incident out of my head.
Until last week, that is, when I had occasion to park in roughly the same spot again. On my return to my car, yet again, I found a note tucked under the wiper and on this occasion my other wiper had been yanked up and away from the windshield. This second note undoubtedly had the same author, though the wording was the different: ‘NEVER PARK OUTSIDE MY GATE AGAIN’, it read. And from the manner in which the pen had been dug into the page when it was written, I reckon the author was more than a little put out (ok, psychoanalysis over for today).
When I looked around I realised that I had parked in front of a pedestrian gate and not a driveway, as you might presume. I hadn’t parked up on the footpath so my car was in no way blocking access to the gate. From what I could gather, it was the presence of the car that had irked the homeowner. Now this might be understandable if there was no other available parking space on the street. But there had only been one other car visible when I parked mine and on my return there were still several spaces on the street. Just not outside this particular house.
‘Hasn’t that person little to be worrying them’, I thought. As car ownership increases and fewer and fewer houses have dedicated car spaces, I can appreciate that parking is an increasing problem. But we all pay our road tax and parking costs and are therefore entitled to park on a public roadway.
Chatting about the incident to friends, however, it seems such incidents are far from rare. I’m sure many of you have experienced road rage, but have you come across the lesser known though equally alarming phenomenon of parking rage? When it comes to parking outside their own front door, drivers have become very territorial, using traffic cones, rubbish bins and if necessary such assertive notes plastered on the windscreen of other cars to reserve a space.
The next time you see a motorist hurling abuse at a ticket warden, bumping into the parked car in front or behind just to squeeze into a spot or deliberately defying parking regulations and parking illegally, don’t be shocked or appalled. In fact, even the celebs are doing it (so it must be fashionable) – a neighbour of Lily Allen’s had a public row with the star after she apparently nicked his parking spot. Then there’s parallel parking rage, where parallel parking into small spaces is so tough that the driver rams the other cars out of the way.
Courtesy and civilised behaviour go out the window when it comes to parking rage, as battles over parking lead to obscene verbal exchanges and vandalism. Hardly a week goes by when there isn’t a report in the news about someone in the United States being killed following a parking feud and similar stories are cropping up closer to home. Increased development of residents’ parking areas in urban and suburban areas has led to situations where whole communities are “at war” with each other and a study by Norwich Union found that parking is the number one provocation for neighbour to neighbour feuds!!!
So what’s a girl to do? Ignore such aforementioned notes and park wherever I find a space (in the knowledge that I’m certainly not losing sleep, even if my new penpal is). Or perhaps be intimidated into moving my car elsewhere. Tough choice.
Here’s a reason to be cheerful: the Irish Spatial Stategy predicts that, by 2016, the south east region will have 1,608,400 cars (based on a saturation level of 90 cars per 100 persons) – double the figure of 1996.
Oooh, I predict a riot.