Sunday, May 28, 2017

Parking Lot Rage

I went to the bank on a Friday afternoon.

I knew going into it this was foolish. But there were deposits to be made. A holiday weekend looming.

The drive thru was packed, a condition that occurs when two cars occupy the queue for the one vacuum tube. I drove around the building and parked in a narrow spot in the horridly ill conceived parking lot that serves our local PNC. Inside, all of the tellers were busy, but I was the only one in the line. I stood for just a moment when a teller, freshly returned from lunch, slid open her window and said, "I can help you."

She was in a really good mood. She smiled and told me to be sure to get some of the blue and red sugar cookies the bank was giving out for Memorial Day. "No thank you," I said. "I baked chocolate chip cookies yesterday and I'm over my limit for eating cookies."

We chatted about baking. When the transaction was complete she handed me the receipt and reached over the divider to shake my hand as we said goodbye.

It was the very nicest trip to the bank ever.

Me and my Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Her name is Allie. I think she's nice. For all I know, she thinks I'm a butt-head.
And then I got in the car. The parking lot is just the worst.

I carefully checked behind me. No cars were visible so I eased out into the narrow aisle between two rows of parked cars. I reached down to shift into drive when I heard:

"Get out of my way you ASSHOLE!"

Now, I'm not 100% sure about the first part of the woman's statement. Only the a-hole bit was clear. How loud was this women yelling that I could hear her with my windows closed? At any rate, she was there now behind me, impeded by my Volkswagen, and miserable. Alone in my car I said out loud, "Did she just swear at me?" And the elderly woman that lives inside me, the one that sits on the porch and yells at cars driving too fast around the cul de sac, came out. "You're going to get to see my parking lot speed," I said.

Apparently, I talk to myself a lot when strangers are yelling at me.

I let the car creep out of the parking lot. I did a full two second stop each of two stop signs before turning onto the bank's access road. Still creeping. 5 mph. The woman, Captain Potty Mouth, drove her baby poop brown Hyundai Santa Fe two inches off my bumper and blared her horn. It was that angry, constant horn honk that only completely enraged drivers can produce.

I made a right on red at the traffic light. I could have waited for it to turn green, but I didn't want to see the woman completely melt down. Freed from the constraints of being stuck behind me on a two lane road, the woman sped by. She shot between two cars slightly staggered in front of her and promptly came to a stop at the next traffic light. It was 500 feet of pants-on-fire reckless driving. She got absolutely no where.

While recounting this story to my family at dinner, I hypothesized that people hate my new car. I've had it for three months now and the count on rude gestures, horn honks, and audible expletives now stands at almost a dozen. And I'm not logging a lot of miles in the thing. It seems unlikely that my driving has degraded suddenly. Some of the honking and gesturing happened while my husband was driving. So the only difference, save the passage of time, is the car.

"I blame the smart phones," my daughter said. "The lady was probably in a hurry to get somewhere so she could sit in a waiting room and look at her phone."

"Maybe she'd just robbed the drive thru," my husband said. "You said she was driving it 'like it was stolen.'"

But I think people are just angrier than they've ever been before. Type "are people getting angrier" into Google. Google says simply: yes.

Not really, but there are a host of articles about the reasons Americans are so angry. One on the Huffington Post says people are angry because of their smart phones. My 12-year-old is a genius!

After an extensive minute and a half of research, I didn't turn up any articles that specifically referenced VW automobiles as a root cause of American rage. That's a relief.

Maybe next time I'll wait for the drive thru. Do you think they'll send sugar cookies in the vacuum tube?