July 14, 2006

First Person

Parking Space Jihad

By Al Carlos Hernandez

We live in an urban housing development built in the late 60s. All of the homes are detached split level, with one car lane garages that can accommodate two cars below the home if you put one directly behind the other. No one does that. We do one car, two bikes and an in-law.

My philosophy regarding home ownership and property rights is pretty simple; The American bill of rights does not entitle you to leave your raggedy car in front of my house and hog on all the parking all weekend without consequence.

The main problem is that there are two families across the street with 6 cars each and four drivers per casa. One family, I am assuming career insomniacs, is on 24-7 obsessive compulsive parking watch, and will move cars around at the weirdest times.

They won’t park in front of our house because someone convinced them that I was in the witness protection program.

I have territorially joined the fray and find myself playing vehicular chess with these folks and astonishingly can almost anticipate their comings and goings. It is pathetic to admit that we have forgone short trips around town as to not to lose a prime time space.

This is no doubt territorialism in its most lurid modernistic form, but not without practical application. My wife works late hours during the week and her sister works even later hours and I don’t want them walking a long block away in the dark to park. If folks were rational in parking etiquette, everyone could slip in close next to their cribs.

Each family seems to have a parking philosophy. The other 6 car family next door to the night stalkers has an intricate communication system and a parking pecking order. The Town Car gets the driveway, the Buick gets the curb and the Hondas have to fit behind the Town Car blocking it’s path out. This problem for them would be moot if the 35 year old live with Mama didn’t have old school never-driven vehicles in the garage.

I have discussed this issue (in fact that is the only thing we ever talk about) with our next door neighbor Jim. He is semi-retired and is locally famous for his “put the garbage out on the curb, space-blocking” technique. He is one of those old guys who grew up in the barrio before it was the barrio, then claims he is from the hood.

Last week he tossed me another straight line about how bad the parking was. I shouted that I am buying a tow truck and handling it myself. He grumbled something, it sounded like he called me a Tricky Spic.

His wife who knows everybody’s business tells everyone the ridiculous things we say. We counted on her surreptitious involvement in the witness protection rumor, ergo none of the old timer’s park directly in front of our home, ever.

I have studied the parking problem on the block and have come to a few conclusions. There are some people who are plain stupid who take up two spaces. There are smarter people who do that on purpose. Some cars from down the street, park up the block, when there are house parties and slipper fests.

Some park on the street because they have a seldom loved one living in the garage, or have a disabled ride that they are still making payments on sick in the driveway. Most of the little kids who used to ride up and down the street on bicycles now have Civics, attend community college, and attempt to hide sleep over guests.

There is nothing more irksome then a car that stays all weekend, parked in front of the house taking up two parking spaces. These folks do not know how fortunate they are that I don’t have a portable welding torch; my Homie will lower any car by heating the springs in 20 minutes, ten bucks a spring.

The real problem is this: There is a home up the street that 18 Mexicans living there, one of whom works for a car wrecking yard. Every day and night there is at least 5 vehicles that show up, no doubt to sleep on the floor.

They have become an occupying presence on the block. The cars that live here and by homesteading rights are supposed to park there are forced to move into non-traditional parking areas.

No one is mad at them for being Latinos. Everyone is mad at them for their indecorous misuse of public parking. Most home owners have acclimated gracefully to this socioeconomic intrusion.

Mathematically everything has its place, we all can get along of we really want to, if we keep in mind the needs of others and not succumb to conspicuous consumption.

No one is impressed by an 87 Supra or a 2006 Humvee, anymore.

Al Carlos Hernandez writes from Hollywood.

Return to the Frontpage