I started this column with a plan to target the poor habits displayed
at most parking lots. Since this Friday marks what is historically
the first day of holiday shopping, I decided to focus my attention both on
what occurs in the parking lot and the shopping the occurs inside the store.
Stores once were small enough that every shopper could park his/her
car against the sidewalk. As stores became larger, they needed large
lots where shoppers could park their cars then walk across incoming
traffic to the store. This is the point at which courtesy took a bow and “might makes right”
became the new order. I think car drivers should know this; the
pedestrian always has the right of way. There is never a time,
whether on the public street or private lot, that you may use your vehicle to legally
kill a pedestrian because you are in a hurry to shop. Those on foot
who don’t wish to test that rule, may want to show some courtesy of
their own by crossing traffic lanes at a ninety degree angle and escape to the
relative safety of the parking lot.
Cars, and their drivers, need not be in motion to create problems in
a parking lot. One of my favorites is when some anarchist parks in
the fire lane. If a fire truck is truly man’s greatest humanity to
man, then blocking the lane reserved for the fire truck must be a sin
of great significance. I also find it charming when someone parks in
the “no-parking” section marked with diagonal yellow lines. I always tell myself
to forgive this indiscretion as it is perhaps an elderly person who has trouble
walking. However, it’s never an older person and in fact it’s usually someone younger than myself
who’s only trouble is an infatuation with laziness. Finally, the
person who is not handicapped but still parks in that stall is beneath
my contempt; their actions may only be a misdemeanor on earth but
will require much explanation in the next world.
Let’s get inside the store, it’s where people lack the anonymity of their
vehicles and shopping becomes personal. I shopped once on the day after Thanksgiving. It was so crowded; we moved as one huge, unstoppable mass except when the weak fell and slowed our progress as they were crushed under the shopping cart wheels. It reminded me of a historical event. During the Canadian Gold Rush of 1898, prospectors had to march one year’s provisions up “the Golden Stairs” which was a mountain pass on the Chilkoot Trail that led to the Klondike. Men walked in lock step and dared not to fall out of line nor stop as they were
part of a massive human conveyor belt which would grind to a halt if one man fell. Canadian Mounties checked to make sure they had brought a full year’s supplies and would not allow passage without these staple items. It all was similar to the store that Friday after Thanksgiving. There were so many shoppers that if even one stopped you could hear the
yelps and groans as shopping carts met Achilles Heal. While there were no Mounties, the
checkout clerks made sure that everyone had bought enough by asking
if they found everything that day. While we weren’t in as dire
straits as the 19th century prospectors had been, we did have common
ground in that our situation was a product of our own greed.
I hope today’s column made you smile or created a different way to look at shopping and parking during the holidays or year-round. It may well have brought
about some questions. However, I suspect the one
question you won’t have to ask me is, “are you going to shop on
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