Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Michael Abrahams | Parking lot punks

Published:Monday | September 19, 2016 | 9:23 AMMichael Abrahams

I think there should be a special place in hell reserved for people who park their vehicles and block others, and walk away without a care in the world. It is one of my pet peeves, and I believe that my abhorrence is absolutely justified, as this type of behaviour represents extreme selfishness.
When you block others, you can cause them to be late for work, school, examinations and important engagements. More important, blocking another vehicle does not just cause inconvenience; the consequences can be lethal. In England, in 2009, a critically ill man died after his neighbour parked her car in a way to deliberately block an ambulance taking him to hospital. The woman was convicted and fined.
One of the most disgusting displays of parking lot bullying that I have personally witnessed took place last week. A meeting was held one evening for parents of children in a number of grades at my sons’ school. During the meeting, several announcements were made asking the driver of a black Prado to remove the vehicle, as it was obstructing the entrance/exit to one of the school’s parking lots, blocking several parents. On each occasion, no one budged, and the driver was not identified.
After being at the venue for about two hours, I decided to leave for home, only to discover a gathering of frustrated and angry parents in the parking lot, held hostage by the inconsiderate motorist. I realised that I, too, was affected by the hostage situation, as my car was also impounded.
The school that my children attend is on the same property as a church, and I looked up and noticed a light on in a room upstairs in the church administration building, and it occurred to me that the culprit just might be at that location. I was correct.
Located in cosy, air-conditioned room, with the sign ‘Minister’s Office’ on the door, were four men and a woman, comfortably seated, having a meeting. When asked if the driver of the Prado was present, they all looked at me, and no one said a word. When I repeated the question, one of the men casually looked up at me and said, "Since it's you, I might move it.”
On observing his demeanour, and being cognisant of the massive inconvenience caused downstairs, I did not just see red, I saw all the colours of the spectrum. The tone and volume of my voice then took on radically different dimensions, and I instructed him to move his vehicle immediately. A man at what appeared to be the head table reprimanded me and told me "not to bring that in here".
Things escalated quickly. The colours of the spectrum began to spin at a terrifyingly high velocity until all I could see was white. I made my way through the chalky haze to his table, placed my hands on it, looked him directly in the eyes and asked him "What are you going to do about it?" The congregants in the upper room responded vigorously en masse, rebuking me, apparently deeming my indignation to be less than righteous.
I went downstairs and reported the findings of my mission to my fellow hostages and they looked at me in disbelief, having difficulty in accepting the fact that someone could actually know that they are blocking several people with their vehicle, and be unconcerned.
Among the inconvenienced were a man who said that he had been stranded there for almost an hour, and a doctor who needed to report to work at her hospital. I also imagined what would happen if, being an obstetrician, I was called to urgently attend to a labouring woman with complications, or what would transpire if someone fell acutely ill and was unable to leave for medical care.
The parking lot Nazi eventually sauntered downstairs, to his vehicle, most unrepentant, failing to acknowledge those present or offer even a weak apology for the chaos he had caused. Subsequent conversations with the principal of the school and the minister of the church revealed that there is an ongoing impasse between church folk and school personnel regarding parking on the compound.
As a parent, I have been associated with the school for more than 10 years. There have been occasions where the parking lot has been full and I have had to park on a road parallel to the main road, and make my way across to the school. I do not like it. It is very annoying. But for me, it would be unconscionable to block even one motorist.
In a related story, I was reported to the minister, by the flock, for using “abusive language”. To be honest, as the driver moved his ride, during my parting shot, I referred to him as the southernmost orifice of the gastrointestinal tract.
I guess I need to brush up on my vocabulary.
Michael Abrahams is a gynaecologist and obstetrician, comedian and poet. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and michabe_1999@hotmail.com, or tweet @mikeyabrahams.