Saturday, January 29, 2011

Whose side would you take?

Many houses on the street I live on do not have driveways.  So even though we reside on this block, we have to contend with others for street parking.  This is especially difficult because we are just one block from the commuter train station and many people park here and go to work (instead of paying to park in the lot). Also, we are just one block from the library, the post office and a municipal building (the one that handles social services).  It can sometimes be a real fight to get a parking space especially on Monday and Tuesday when alternate side of the street parking is in effect.  And most especially now when there are 4 and 5 foot high piles of snow stacked everywhere.

The other day when it snowed, the hubby and almost all our neighbors were out there shoveling walkways and digging their cars out of the snow. There was a real camaraderie. Most people when they moved their cars to drive out started putting safety cones, garbage cans, bins, anything really, to hold their space.   I felt funny about doing it initially but I really had no choice.  There is no parking and I could end up having to park blocks and blocks away if I didn't make sure to put a place holder.  So I've been doing it too and it's been a tremendous help.  I'm usually bringing in groceries or other goods or juggling my kids and their stuff.  The weather has been terrible and it just makes it so much easier that I don't have to park as far as a bus ride away.  

People have been respecting the place holders and that has been a great relief to me, I have to say.  People have understood our struggle and have honored the fact that we live on this block and dug it out.  Up until yesterday.

We had a playdate and we were supposed to go to my friend's house.  The roads were still pretty bad so the hubby was to take my Subaru to work.  I thought we wouldn't be able to have the playdate but then I realized she could just park in my space.  She'd be gone long before the hubby came home.  Great plan and I was relieved that we'd have some company.

Almost immediately after the hubby left, my niece calls me to say that someone was in my spot.  I didn't worry because I figured it was my friend's Honda Odyssey.  I looked out the window and it was an Infinity coupe that didn't belong to anyone who lived on this block.  The owner had moved my place holder.  The only reason he chose my space was because, unlike my neighbors, I only placed one safety cone. My neighbors had 2 or 3 large garbage cans or bins to hold their space. 

I looked around to see if maybe it was just someone who'd come to drop something off but there was no one around.  I got upset.  It would have been okay if I didn't have my friend coming because I was sure the person would be gone at least by 6 (because either they went to the city on the commuter train, to the library, to the post office or to the social services building--all of which closed by 6) so my husband would have a place to park my car when he got home at least.  But right then, I was kind of stuck as my friend was on her way.  

I wrote a note.  A polite but strongly worded note about being considerate of the fact that we put so much work into clearing the snow and putting the marker in and that we live on this block.  I taped it to his car with far more tape than was necessary and even put a piece of tape on his car door handle and side view mirror (I was frustrated).  I still had my friend come and we parked her car in the space next to mine, moving my neighbor's place markers.  I left a note in my friend's car with my number so that if my neighbor came home, we'd cut the playdate short and she'd move the car.  (Yes, we'd have to cut the playdate short--there is NO parking.)   

The owner of the Infinity came back about an hour or so into the playdate.  He took the note I left on his car, tore into about 8 pieces and stuck it in various places all over my friend's car.  About an hour after that, he called me to yell at me telling me that it's illegal to put place markers on a public street (yes, he actually took the time to take down my number so that he could call me to tell me about myself).  When I went to help my friend to the car, I realized that he had come back and taken my place marker (a safety cone) and one of my neighbor's placer markers (his garbage can).  I guess he thought my neighbor's placer marker was mine also.   

This experience really made an impression on me and the way people are these days.  I couldn't believe that he went through such lengths over a note left by someone who clearly frustrated at having their spot "stolen".  I can understand that maybe there was an emergency or he was late for an appointment and really desperately needed parking.  I can't understand how this person couldn't understand the desperation we face to the point that we have to pull our car out of the space, get out and put a place marker so we don't lose the spot.  We don't do this under normal circumstances.  I thought he would have called me and explained that he was in a difficult situation and just needed to park quickly and he was sorry for the inconvenience.  I realize, though, that what I would do is not what others would do and I can't expect others to behave the way I would.  I also am coming to the realization that many people these days are really, really self-centered and refuse to think about other folks situation.  My friend's car is a mini-van.  The Infinity owner thought it was mine.  It's feasible that I had four or five kids I would have had to juggle out the car and get into the house--and he took one of the very few spaces available.  (((sigh)))

I know we had no lawful claim to the space.  But this is not about the law or justice to me.  It's about compassion and thinking of others.  

I'm really tired of fighting for street parking.  It's difficult to get the kids to the car safely.  On alternate side of the street parking days, I can't go anywhere in the morning before 12.  Some days I come home and there is just no parking for whatever reason and only a handful of the cars belong to people who live here.  There's the issue of snow.  And my town does not enforce the two-hour parking signs that are up (another town further north handles this by issuing "Resident" stickers to people who live there so they are exempt from the two-hour rule).  

We have space on our property for a driveway.  Once spring comes, I'm going to really have to look into what we need to do to get it put in.  I'm sure we have to get some permits and file paperwork and all that.  That's the hardest part.  Then we have to find someone to do the work and given our history contractors (we're currently being sued by a sub-contractor who put in our new roof who was hired by the contractor we signed the contract with), that will probably be pretty difficult too.  And then there's the cost.  

So what do you think about the situation?  Whose side would you have been on?  The Infinity owner's or mine?  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

To Kick the Winter Blues

I needed to focus on something else beside snow.  So I started a fitness blog.  I'm really excited about it for two reasons.  First, I love to write about my fitness journey.  Secondly, I really hate cluttering up this blog with fitness (essentially making it a fitness blog).  I already have a whole bunch of ideas about what I want to write and do with the blog.  And it's an excellent outlet for me and something wonderful to focus on. So if you are interested, it's called The Daily Strive.  
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