Since I am consistently getting better parking spots than all of my friends, and since I have always heard good things about “giving back to the community,” I thought it might be useful to share my parking secrets, even though they’ll result in less spots for me. It’s a sacrifice, really.
Any attempt to park must begin with ceaseless optimism. If you drive toward a busy area believing that parking will be a problem, then you’ve already let parking get into your head and lost the game. Always assume that there will literally be a spot with your name on it right next to the destination. Begin every search with pure idealism and hope, and then gradually expand your hunt with concentric circles of attrition.
Taking the opposite approach is death. I know plenty of people who don’t even bother looking for spaces near a venue, and purposely look for a spot farther away so they’re more likely to find a space. And yes, such a strategy may land you a space sooner, but at what cost? Your soul, your time, your legs, and your hope for the future. What kind of way is that to live? You might as well scale back all your dreams in life, quitter.
That being said, feel free to take this approach to parking. When everyone assumes the good spots are taken, it makes it easier to get the good spots.
Don’t forget that all those cars are owned by people whose evenings are already underway, and they may return any minute. Everything is a clue. Are the cars hastily parked or carefully lined up? Do they have a neighborhood parking sticker on their window, or is this a tourist from another area? Is there a child in the car? A dog? Isn’t it weird that people leave their children in cars in full view, but they’ll cover up a new television with a blanket? Anyway.
Circling for a parking spot is like fly fishing. Your search must be patient and graceful, not desperate and predatory. Adopting the four-count rhythm helps to dislodge any loose car. It involves accelerating, then braking, then looking ahead, and accelerating again. Feel free to practice in your house by walking around a row of Hot Wheels. Then kick the hot wheels; it makes you feel powerful! Rawr!
While the search must be incremental, the grabbing of a spot must be swift and heartless. Though giving this advice will probably lead to countless car accidents (none of which I’m legally responsible for), do not be afraid of mid-street U-turns. That spot will not survive another trip around the block. If you see a car leaving, you need to hang a sharp U-turn like that scene in “The Godfather” when Michael is in the car with Solazzo (please write in if you got this reference).
There are countless tricks. Always leave your blinkers on in an illegal spot. Know that you’re allowed to park in front of fire hydrants, as long as you put a bucket of water next to your car for the firefighters. Ask homeowners if they’re staying in for the evening, so you can park in front of their driveway. And paint your car like a food truck or a parking enforcement vehicle. They can park anywhere!
Every parked car has driver, so ask people you see if they’re walking to their car, and offer to give them a lift to speed up the process. I’ve spent entire evenings tracking people just so I could get their parking spot at the end of the night (we still keep in touch!). Of course, when they do get into their car, they’ll probably just sit there for five minutes like most people do, but that wait won’t be nearly as long as parents strapping in their kids. I just skip those spots.
Never be afraid of signage. Who’s to say what constitutes 30 feet from the stop sign? Are there NFL refs who come by to measure? And when a space is designated a “30 minute load and unload zone,” doesn’t the 30 minutes refer to each item taken out of the car? If I come back every 30 minutes to grab something, shouldn’t I be good for the night?
These tips may seem risky, and they are, which is why I have a filing cabinet full of parking tickets. But with great risk comes great reward, and a lot of parking tickets.
Remember, parking spaces are like companions: there’s one out there for everyone. You just need to look.
That may not be true, but I wanted to close strong.