I own two plum parking places at my condo building in midtown Atlanta, both in a secure underground parking garage. And I own one car. You don’t have to be a math whiz to realize that means I have one extra parking spot.
My extra parking spot causes me more stress than almost anything else in my life.
You can see from the photo that the parking spot isn’t all that—it’s just another basic space in a damp underground mid-century parking garage that’s seen better days. But since my building is across the street from the busy Fox Theater and generally in a “happening” location (not the case when I moved in 13 years ago), everyone wants my extra parking spot: neighbors, friends, and complete strangers who’ve heard about it through their friends and neighbors. My parking spot has a more active social life than I do—it gets invited to every party, concert, and wedding within a ten-block radius.
My phone and email start beeping on Monday to book the spot for the upcoming week and weekend. Which leaves me to decide how to dole out its use as fairly and as generously as possible to remain on good terms with everyone…without shorting myself. Because contrary to popular belief, I do have a life, complete with visitors of my own. And there is nothing more irritating than when a guest of mine arrives and I discover a building worker, a neighbor, or a neighbor’s visitor has helped himself or herself to my extra spot. That leaves me scrambling, making phone calls and trying to track down the offender who parked there “because I’ve parked there before with no problem,” or “because I was only going to be an hour…or two,” or (my favorite) “because it looked available.”
Apparently my extra parking spot, like an empty swimming pool, is an attractive nuisance, so the wrongdoer shouldn’t be held accountable.
People never fail to surprise me with their self-centeredness. (Indeed, word has gotten back to me that people think my complaining when people use my spot without my permission is selfish of me.) But that last remark of the spot looking available was sort of the straw that broke this camel’s back. Now I’m pondering what I can put in my extra parking spot to let people know it’s not simply theirs for the taking: An orange cone? A couch and lamp? A chalk body outline and crime scene tape?
Help me out! What do YOU think I should do to give people the gentle hint that my extra parking spot isn’t community property?!