We all know about road rage. But what about the big city special: parking rage?
The latest episode of such rage is now in court. Electrician Oscar Fuller grew furious when after driving around endlessly looking for a parking spot in lower Manhattan, found Lana Rosas standing in the only spot available, “holding” it for a friend of hers.
Fuller hopped out of the car to confront her, and from here on it gets a bit murky. Some witnesses say Rosas put her hands on him first. Others say Fuller just hauled back and slugged her. In any event, Rosas suffered a serious head injury after she hit the pavement, and Fuller is probably on his way to jail.
While this is one of the more extreme examples of parking rage, it is far from uncommon. Anyone who has ever driven a car into New York City has at one time or another felt his or her blood pressure soar as they drove up, down and around side streets in endless circles of hell.
When I moved to the city, I regularly played Manhattan alternate-side-of-the-street roulette. For the uninitiated, this involves getting up early in the morning, perhaps on a sub-freezing, wintry day, to move your car to the side of the street that was recently cleaned and sit in it for up to an hour shivering while reserving your precious spot. Certainly one of the less glamorous aspects of living in the big city.
After a few months of this (and countless tickets) I sold my car. Giving it up was one of the most liberating experiences of my life. It not only freed up time and money, but got me into the habit of doing something alien to most Americans–walking. It’s no accident that New Yorkers are among the nation’s fittest Americans. Very few Manhattanites own a car–there is no need. In fact, owning a car here without having it garaged is now considered valid evidence for having someone committed for insanity.
Still, out-of-towners continue to drive in, as bike lanes gobble up even more of the few precious few spaces available for parking. Meanwhile parking space rage continues to mushroom.
Last year in Brooklyn, a woman pulled up to a spot and saw another woman standing in and “reserving” it. When the driver tried to shoo her away, the second woman gave her the finger. The first woman jumped from her vehicle, ran over to the bird-flipper, seized the offending finger and bit it off. No, I’m not making this up.
Other big cities report similar, growing mayhem regarding reduced parking spots. In Pittsburgh last winter, a 61 year old man with no known history of violence went nuts after he found a parking spot on his snowy street, only to have his 33 year old neighbor asked him to move it from “his spot” that he dug out from a snowstorm.
The older man bellowed a primal scream and whipped out a gun. The younger guy called police. The first guy ran down the street into his home and barricaded himself. The cops demanded he open up, but the man just screamed through the door “That was my spot!” When the cops broke down the door, the man fired his gun. The cops ducked, then tasered him. They dragged out the 260 pound man and arrested him for attempted homicide. On the bright side, the man did finally find a spot–in city jail.
The lessons here? 1) Make “holding a spot” against the law, then enforce it. 2) Whatever your understandable frustration, don’t punch, shoot or bite off the finger of anyone “reserving” a parking spot. If you can’t remember the second one, at least don’t drive down my street. Appreciate it.