Thursday, 17 February 2011

Lonely Cars

Of all the articles here questioning with the 'is it just me?' tag, this perhaps is a prime candidate for an affirmative answer. Sorry, but it right grinds my gears, so it does.

I'm of the persuasion that I'd prefer to park miles away from the supermarket and endure the walk rather than go through the palaver of squeezing into the driver's seat on my return due to the proximity of the car in the next bay. I've lost count over the years, though, of the times I've left my vehicle in the farthest recess of an empty car park only to come back and find another neatly installed next door ... despite there being hundreds of other vacant bays to choose from!

You see, I kinda thought that car parking spaces would naturally follow the same allocation process as urinal protocol, but my theory is regularly disproven.

The latest example came this week where I witnessed something quite extraordinary while having a sneaky puff outside an almost deserted pub carvery (was £8.99 reduced to £3.99 due to lack of anyone liking pubs anymore).

ASH would have been proud since I barely took a couple of puffs as the scene I'm about to describe unfolded in front of me. The 30+ front of house spaces were empty but for three cars, one of them mine, yet I watched as a Nissan Micra pulled into the car park - painfully slowly I might add - and snugly placed itself right next to mine, having passed a copious array of unoccupied slots in the process.

No, that's not the end of it. The female driver then emerged from the obstruction free driver's door and went round to the passenger side to assist her elderly hubby in exiting the vehicle. He seriously struggled to do so with merely a half-open door to contend with because ... he was on crutches!

The whole process took around five minutes before they were finally able to amble, or hobble in his case, towards the pub entrance where I stood mouth agape.

Now, I'm sure someone must have a better explanation for such self-defeating behaviour, but all I can come up with is that these people must feel that their car will become lonely while they're away, or something.

I mean, how else does one account for it, especially since this example clearly resulted in an own goal for the couple concerned? There must be more to it than plain foolishness, surely.


29 comments:

WitteringsfromWitney said...

Ah DP, surely the fact registered that the driver was female?

Anonymous said...

its like when you are on an empty beach and some random others appear and nearly sit on top of you

Dick Puddlecote said...

Well exactly, Anon, the same thing happens in many other situations. It seems to go against the natural human trait of wanting to preserve one's personal space, it seems to me.

Curmudgeon said...

It's similar to the traditional British love of queueing – people subconsciously want to fill up the parking spaces in an orderly manner.

In car parks at stately homes and the like you often proceed through the car park along a single route lined with spaces on either side, where there's an advantage in taking the first space available as you're nearer the entrance, and indeed are sometimes encouraged by a parking attendant to do so.

WV = "amenemo" :?

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX
I mean, how else does one account for it, especially since this example clearly resulted in an own goal for the couple concerned? There must be more to it than plain foolishness, surely. XX

And, it did not even occur to you to ASK them?

PT Barnum said...

I think it's something to do with unconsciously needing permission to deposit one's vehicle and the presence of another vehicle provides reassurance. Some are happy to strike out in maverick-fashion, but all too many wish for the consolation of crowds.

Ciaran said...

It's not just you, I will always park at the empty far end of a car park (much to my wife's annoyance).

I can't even begin to understand why someone would then park directly next to me, but they do. I've never actually witnessed them doing it as you did, or I would have asked

Anonymous said...

This person possibly has low spatial awareness and needs a neighbouring vehicle as a reference point for parking.

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX This person possibly has low spatial awareness and needs a neighbouring vehicle as a reference point for parking.XX

Hopefully they are never driving in the same area as me then.

One of the BASICS of driving is "spatial awareness"....or?

JuliaM said...

I think it must be the 'safety in numbers' effect.

Though when I was driving my late father's Toyota round to keep it running until probate was finished, I noticed something he'd always claimed (and I'd laughed off): if I parked it in a crowded car park, when I returned - no matter how short or long a time - it was ALWAYS free space on at least one side, sometimes both.

Weird. It was like it repelled other cars!

JuliaM said...

And actually, the reverse effect applies on Tube trains.

Watch people look for spaces well away from others, even walking past empty seats, until the train is filling up and there's no choice left...

Anonymous said...

anon 1214, spot on.

Some people, especially woman have a problem with this and also are unable to 'level up' into parking bays and so use other vehicles as guidance.

davbrubu said...

It could be that your car carries third hand traces of your magnetic personally.....

Stranger things happen, as we all know only too well

Dick Puddlecote said...

Excellent theories, especially the parking in an orderly manner and consolation of crowds ideas. Perhaps the drivers themselves don't even know themselves and just do it without a thought.

Furor T: Do you know, it never even crossed my mind, but thinking about it now I wish I had asked.

Ciaran: I'm glad I'm not alone, I find it just makes life that little bit easier. I'll never understand the fighting for a space as near to the store as possible (or at the lowest possible level of a multi-storey), as it's stressful and time-wasting. I can understand for those who are old or infirm, but that's not how most who do it appear to be.

Julia: Yes, the tube experience is exactly in line with the urinal example, it's how I'd expect it to happen naturally.

Davbrubru: Talking of thirdhand traces, perhaps if I label it as a smoker's car no-one will park within three bays of me. ;)

The two Anons: I've heard the spatial awareness theory in relation to the female brian before so you may well have a point.

WfW: I couldn't possibly comment. ;)

Anonymous said...

Ahem, I'm one who's guilty of this - and I think it is to do with spacial awareness: if I see loads of empty spaces I panic and can't manoeuvre into one neatly. My parallel parking between two cars, though, is a thing of beauty!

Jay

Anonymous said...

Hmm, maybe because of her husband on crutches she was thinking with another car next to where he was getting out, then he'd not fall onto the ground as he struggled, simply onto another car that would prop him up instead, or that he could hold onto in case of a slip, much like a handrail.

Just for bedevilment, after she wandered off and if I wanted to play a little fun, maybe I'd have taken my car and moved it around to the other side, so it was then parked up against the driver's side of her car for when she got back and see if it confused her. Of moved it one space forward so it was diaganol to hers. That might have caused her to subconsciously think something's different, but not quite know what it was, couldn't quite put her finger on it.

If anyone doesn't want anyone parking next to them, a good trick is place a fag pack on the open dashboard and the fear of 4th hand smoke will keep them away.

Snowolf said...

I have a friend with family in old Kernow. One night, about 02:30 as he was driving back to Sussex, he felt a wave of fatigue sweep over him and decided to pull into the Stonehenge car park, which was empty, for a nap.

Ten minutes after he dropped off, he was awoken with an almighty crash as the driver of another car, which had come and parked right next to him, flung his door open and remodelled the contours of my mate's passenger side door.

His immediate comment following this unlikely, yet utterly predictable, chain of events was never recorded.

Anonymous said...

Re "levelling up" beside another car. OK, so maybe some people have trouble with that, but there are usually these big white lines conveniently painted on the ground in car parks which can sometimes help ....

I'm a girlie driver, and even I've worked that one out!

Friday Night Smoke said...

I thought it was just my car that attracted morons to park right next to it! It's something that I really don't understand, and it gets my goat. My car has exceptionally long doors, so to get in/out in an orderly fashion requires a bit of space. When the average British parking space is just large enough for a Mini, group parkers are a real annoyance.
Another thing, in a car park I use quite a lot there are a few unusually large spaces at one end, most of the spaces being tiny. Without fail, the big spaces are filled by SMARTs, Ford Kas and other miniscule cars, while Range Rovers and vans are having to squeeze into the undersized spaces, usually with the assistance of a little oil. Thats the kind of mild twattery that is on the rise.

nisakiman said...

It's the herd instinct. Natural leaders will park in an area with plenty of space around them, better to assess the situation. Natural followers will gather because they sense security in following.

And my captcha tonight is "herat", a fine place to be 40+ years ago. No longer, I fear. Sorry, just an off-topic aside...

JuliaM said...

" I'll never understand the fighting for a space as near to the store as possible (or at the lowest possible level of a multi-storey), as it's stressful and time-wasting."

I always, always go straight to the top on multi-storys. You are guarenteed a parking space and it's not quite so claustrophobic..

JuliaM said...

"...but there are usually these big white lines conveniently painted on the ground in car parks which can sometimes help ...."

Ah, must admit, in an empty car park, I do love to reverse into a space using the existing one as a guide.

But in my local Waitrose, due to the need to accommodate a trolley area, they are 'offset' a little, and I can't quite get the angle right!

Anonymous said...

I try to park next to the smartest car in the car-park. They are unlikely to risk damaging their own car by opening the door on to mine and any theives about are more likely to go for richer pickings.

countdruncula said...

+1 for herd mentality. One of my pet hates is fat fucks plonking their corpulent arses next to me and leaning all over me on an otherwise empty bus. It's almost like they do it to wind me up - works every time too!

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX countdruncula said...XX

That one is easy to cure. Just make sure you always have a really GOOD fart stored up.

SadButMadLad said...

I think JuliaM's first comment and that of Anon at 00:25 have it. It's to do with theft and thieves.

The safety in numbers and the fact that if you park next to a better car means that you are hoping that a thief will go for another car rather than your own.

The safety in numbers means is exactly the same as the herds of buffalo tramping through the Serengiti - the predator only goes for ones on the edge.

Parking next to a better car means that the thief will get distracted and go for the more lucrative one. Exactly the same as the herds of buffalo tramping through the Serengiti - the predator only goes for the weaker ones as it's more productive and less energy is wasted killing it.

microdave said...

There's little chance of anyone parking next to my car on the basis that it's better than theirs. It ties with an old boys Lada estate for the scruffiest rust heap around these parts...

Glad to see I'm not the only driver who's noticed the white lines usually painted on the tarmac. And being an ex van driver I can even reverse into a space just using my mirrors! In fact I can do it better this way than looking out the window. But considering how difficult it is to see out of modern cars, with their thick door pillars and tiny windows, that's not surprising.

I can see people coming unstuck if they use other cars as a reference. Since many are now tapered on plan, don't assume you will always have a nice rectangular "box" to aim into.

Chalcedon said...

Years ago my dad parked his car in an empty field (before I was born though). When he returned to the car, some tosser had not only parked next to him, but had dented his door by opening his own door and banging my dad's car. Mt father couldn't believe it that this twat had parked next to him in an otherwise empty field!

Rust Deposits in Urinals said...

Well exactly, Anon, the same thing happens in many other situations. It seems to go against the natural human trait of wanti