No good deed goes unpunished.
– Motto on Kirby coat-of-arms
I was headed home after a long day and a longer week and my wife calls. She wants me to pick up a take-out meal at her favorite Mexican restaurant.
Sure. No problem. I’m easy to get along with. If she’s happy, I’m happy.
So ... I pull into the parking lot next to the restaurant, which is actually a shopping center parking lot that for the moment is almost empty.
Lots of wide open space and not many cars, but still I find two faded parking space stripes and pull between them.
I go inside.
They get the order and I hand over $20 to pay for the $11.07 meal.
The tray opens and the cashier frowns.
He is apparently low on change. This could be a problem because in the minutes I have been standing by the door I have seen waves of people coming in.
“Must be a 6 o’clock party in a back room,” I say.
He shakes his head and reluctantly hands me $9.
“I owe you 7 cents,” I tell him.
“That’s OK,” he says softly.
“No,” I said, “I’ve got that much in the ashtray in my car. I’ll go get it.”
He smiles. I smile. And I head back into the parking lot, find my car, notice how the lot is filling up, pop out the dashboard ashtray. Find a nickel and two pennies. And walk it back inside to the cashier.
All of this takes probably a minute.
But I’m feeling good about it because my debts are paid. The weekend awaits and ...
I notice something odd as I approach my car in the parking lot.
Someone has parked a car behind it.
Normally, this would not be a problem except there is already a car parked in front of it.
It appears that someone has decided to create a third parking lane in the shopping center lot, and they started behind my car, effectively sealing me in between two vehicles.
My first thought is somebody is playing a joke. Perhaps someone I know recognized my ride and they are standing off to the side to see my reaction.
I look around. It’s dark and there’s no one watching me. No one.
I guess someone just figured it was Free Style Friday Parking Night.
I guess someone driving a white Lincoln Navigator with Carolina Gamecock bumper stickers, figured, “Hey, we park this way in Columbia all the time.”
I guess somebody was just so self-absorbed in their Friday night world, they just didn’t notice that they had blocked in someone else’s vehicle.
Well thank goodness they didn’t do a better job of it.
For some reason they left me almost four feet between my back bumper and their grille. (There also was no car parked on my left, a parking place they actually might have considered using, but ... didn’t.)
So I got behind the wheel, started the engine and began to work my way out of the “sandwich.” Pulling up, pulling back, cutting the wheel sharply each time ... and slowly edging my car over to the side and out of the space.
It took about five minutes.
When free of the trap, I got out of my car, walked over to the Navigator and tried to figure out what was best to do.
I could leave a nasty note and say some ugly things.
I could let the air out of two tires, park nearby and watch what happened.
I could pull behind their vehicle and block them in, but that was not only foolish, but ineffective because they now had a big open space in front to maneuver past.
So I went home because someone was waiting on her take-out order and I had a story I could tell her to explain why it was late.