Thursday, January 03, 2008
It's MY Parking Spot!
I grew up in Boston, where the winters can be fierce when the Montreal Express roars through. The competition over parking can be deadly- you put in hours shovelling out your vehicle after a storm, pull away and mark your turf with a barrel or cone or bin or chair. Then you come home to find someone took your marker and your spot as well.
Last year the mayor decreed that so many days after a storm, the city would pick up all markers and parking was back to a free-for-all. My kids are living in Boston, so I get to hear their woes.
When we bought our first house, we decided we had to have off-street parking, ie, a driveway. The second-largest city in New England wasn't much different from the biggest. I had had one neighbor watch me shovel out a spot (and I was largely pregnant), then steal my bin and blithely park there. So we thought our parking worries were over.
My driveway was blocked so frequently, it was ridiculous. On a street lined with driveways, every one would be open and mine would be blocked. Some days I could not get to work until the city came and towed away the offender. Unfortunately, the city policy was to first try and find the owner and notify him/her by phone that they were blocking my drive. I had many a person visiting another house on the street who would just pull into my drive and leave their car. Of course, they didn't want to inconvenience their friends, but it was ok to inconvenience a total stranger. My personal favourites were;
1. The woman who lived next door for 3 months and parked one night straight across my driveway. The cops traced her car by the college sticker, and she came bumbling out, hung over, to move her vehicle. She never noticed there was a driveway there, she said, because it was dark. I pointed out the big pole directly across from my driveway- the streetlight. Not to mention she had been living on the street for months. That one caused both ex and I to be 1.5 hours late for work.
2. The teacher from the school up the street who parked across my drive because there was no parking closer to the school.
3. The guy visiting the people next door. He didn't want to park in their driveway in case they needed to get out. What if we needed to get out? Oh- he didn't think about that. What gave him the right to park in our driveway in the first place? He didn't think about that,either.
4. The tenants' friends. There was not enough room for our tenants to park in the drive, so they used the street. Their friends didn't. Their friends felt that pulling in for a few hours was a god-given right of being a Friend of Tenant. I would just pull in behind them and block them. Inevitably, when I was in the middle of feeding the family dinner, the knock on the door would come and the "You're blocking me in.." call would start. I would inform said friends that I would move my car after dinner at my convenience, and all hell would break loose. It was perfectly ok for unrelated people who didn't pay me rent to inconvenience me by using my personal space as a public lot, but when I refused to more right away for them- I was a major bitch.
When I bought the new house after my divorce, I once again had driveway on my MUST HAVE list. For the first time in my life, I am in a small town. I thought parking was no longer a problem. Boy did I think wrong!
This morning I looked out to see a commercial truck parked perpendicular to (and six inches from) my new little car, in MY driveway. I went out in my robe and a young white guy was in the truck. May I ask why you are in my drive? "I am just waiting for someone in the house next door." Then why don't you park in their drive? "I thought someone mught be pulling out and I didn't want to get in their way." So why do you think it's ok to be in MY way? This is my property, you are not working for me or visiting me..."But I am just waiting for someone. I will only be here a few minutes."
APPARENTLY the world does not understand that MY property means NOT YOURS, NOT THE NEIGHBORS and NOT TO BE PARKED ON.
Since I moved in, I have had my neighbors' tenants, their guests, their family and their friends, and the idiots they hire to do work on the house all merrily take possession of my side of the driveway. Now, I share a drive; their side is paved, and they have a yard big enough for six cars to park and then some turning space. I have a dirt drive that also exits on the side street, a large lawn and a crawlspace with two doors that exit onto the drive. Here are my favourite driveway incidents in the new house:
1. The tenant next door had a son who does not live with him who thought it would be ok to buy a junk car, have it towed to MY driveway and parked, so he could work on it at his convenience. I thought it was stolen and abandoned, since it was torn to bits inside, so I called the cops and asked them to tow it. When I cam home that night from work, it was still there. I called cops again. Cops informed me it belonged to the people next door and talk to them. I said NO- it was parked illegally on my property and I wanted it towed off. Cops called daddy next door, daddy called sonny. Half an hour later, sonny boy came with some friends and jumper cables, filled my driveway with vehicles, got it running and drove it away. I went out and asked them why they thought it would be ok to leave their car in my driveway. I dunno, we just thought it would be ok cos my dad lives here. But your dad doesn't live HERE- he lives over there next door. I dunno.
2. The birthday party for the insane twins. Next door, we used to have this crazy woman who had twins and a baby, plus her hub had a bunch of kids from his ex. There was always screaming and slapping and lots of country music blasting the same song over and over again (and many calls to the cops and child protective services by those of us who were mandated reporters). They had a birthday party, and the cars began to line MY driveway. I went out each time; excuse me- this is my driveway. You'll have to park somewhere else. "Oh well, I don't want to park in their driveway, they won't be able to get out!" Well- if you park in MY driveway, I won't be able to get out either, will I? "OH." And this is NOT my tenant, and this is NOT a public parking lot, so you need to move. "Where will I park?" (Like I give a rat's *** you hick!) How about somewhere else?
3. The roofers. My neighbor had her roof done, and hired this crew. I woke up in the morning and there were trucks all over my driveway AND parked on my LAWN. They were merrily ripping off roofing shingles and tossing them down on MY side of the driveway (can't risk having nails on their side and flattening the neighbors' tires, but it apparently is ok to flatten MY tires. I went out and said "EXCUSE ME! Why are there construction trucks in my driveway AND on my LAWN, and why are you throwing your construction debris in MY yard? I am not having MY roof done..." Well, if we throw it in this yard, their cars cannot get in and out. "Well- I MYSELF cannot get in or out can I?" "No speaky English." And after that they refused to speak English and turned up the radio every time I went out to yell at them to get out of my drive, or remove their crap from my drive. The foreman parked at the end of my driveway every day for months and it drove me nuts when I was studying for my exams, but if I yelled, they got louder and it made it worse. I asked my neighbor to tell them to stay out of the driveway, and I am sure she did. I like her a lot, and I don't want our relationship ruined by something she is not in control of.
I guess I need to be a more consistent bitch and call the police every time someone is in my drive. God knows they are looking for something to do in this sleepy little town. But then my address will be in the police log in the local paper.
It just seems to be my karma to have driveway issues.
A postscript, four hours later on the same day:
Returned from numerous errands and pulled in my drive only to find a large pick up truck full of tools parked not only in my drive but in my spot that I have the plow guy plow for me. The very friendly worker listened nicely as I blew up completely and then commented that they had parked there because they didn't want to inconvenience the tenant who was parked sideways across three spaces next to the dumpster in the neighbor's yard.