As my many readers know, I have a taste for difficult and controversial topics. Indeed, I am completely ruthless in my pseudo-scientific analysis of decisively trivial phenomena. In pursuit of this goal of boldly going where no one has bothered to go before (heedlessly splitting infinitives along the way), I would like to broach the subject of parking lot behaviors. I know this is a sensitive area of research but I can’t back away just because I am going to raise a few eyebrows. I would have preferred to analyze the social and sexual implications of #GamerGate which is also is a highly controversial topic (given the risk of incurring the wrath of #NotAllGamersAreSexistAssHatsButSomeUndeniablyAre, ancillary death threats and the necessity for going into hiding) but lots of other people have discussed it already so it would be redundant. Otherwise I would. Totally.
So, as my loyal readers know, I have been observing Subject A (Brancis), for some years now and I have come to realize that when we drive into a parking lot, his subsequent behavior is not merely an attempt to annoy me. He has A Cunning Plan. Naturally, my inner scientist was aroused mildly interested and I started to analyze the empirical data and to compare it to the parking lot behaviors of other people that I drive around with.
After weeks of computer simulations and number crunching, the results are finally in. I don’t want to go into technical details here but, in simple terms, the computer generalizes across experimental subject’s behaviors and learns the implicit patterns that govern the domain. Standard stuff.
All players start the day with 10 (ten) parking points. The goal is to accumulate the maximum number of points over the course of the day and, hopefully, attain the elusive and mythical Princess Parking, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a parking space seeker.
Princess Parking is the phenomenon whereby you drive into a crowded parking lot and, slowing down only enough to avoid hitting other cars or pedestrians, zoom straight into the parking slot that is closest to the store’s main doors. Princess parking, in the conditions described above, is worth a whopping +10 points every day for the next week. That’s how good Princess Parking is.
If the parking lot has it’s own fb page, like the notorious La Jolla Ralph’s (see also here) then you can make the case for +5 bonus points for just making it out of the parking lot without a significant loss of mental and physical health.
Parking in the space is for people with disabilities gets -1,000,000,000,000 points and a lifetime ban on ever feeling that you are a good person. Unless you are disabled in which case, you permitted (but not encouraged) to key the car of any non-disabled person parked in disability spot.
Parking next to the little-known side door of the store does not qualify as Princess Parking. Sorry about that. We have standards.
Of course, Princess Parking is really just a dream for most of us. Every other scenario takes points away from your daily total.
-2 points for parking on the first aisle that you turn drive into as you enter the parking lot as long as there are no empty spots closer to the main door.
-4 points for passing up an empty spot and failing to find one closer.
-2 points for every time you turn into an aisle (and an extra -2 if you have previously turned into that same aisle)
-2 points for boring your spouse/sister by explaining why you are wasting her life driving around a parking lot.
-4 points for spending more than 10mn looking for a spot close to the store front if there are open spots anywhere in the lot. Know when to give up, dude.
-5 points for either 1) following some poor guy holding his keys in his hand around the lot to get his spot when he leaves or 2) waiting in the aisle for someone to leave when no car shows any sign of being occupied by a driver (neither of these apply if you are in a Carrefour parking lot in the Paris region during the Christmas shopping season. If you have experienced this, PLEASE, get help now. There are recovery programs out there. Believe me, eventually the nightmares become less frequent and may, in some cases, even go away altogether*).
-20 points for behaving like a jerk (zooming into a spot when someone else was clearly there first, parking in a spot reserved for carts or other such uncouthness).
-10 points for parking on the street or at the edge of the parking lot when there are likely spots closer to the store. You have clearly decided not to play and don’t deserve any kind of points. We wonder why you have a car in the first place.
There are, of course, some subtleties to scoring your game. For example, during the end of year holidays, you may decide to park on the street and stroll into the store, smiling genially at the people in the cars blocking every aisle of the lot. In this case, you may keep your initial ten points because the intrinsic goal of the game is to bloat your ego and there is nothing quite like strolling by hot, tired people with a pitying smile.
One or two of my experimental subjects contributed material that is not part of the main study and that I include here for completeness:
1) Is it okay to pray for a parking spot?
I have asked around and the general feeling is that it is fine to pray to a deceased family member to intervene on your behalf (“Come on Gran, do this for me.”) and to make promises you know you are unlikely to keep (“Just let me find a spot this one time and I won’t whine about work ever again.”) but it is not okay to pray to a deity. This is about finding a parking space. Get a grip.
2) Do I lose points if I lose my temper?
Yes. Even losing your sense of humor will get you -5. We have to be tough about this. Don’t blame me, I didn’t make the rules, you did.
I think that about rounds it up for Princess Parking, a game of such mind-numbing futility that I can hardly believe how seriously people seem to take it but that, dear Reader, should not stop you telling me about your own experiences. I have a high tolerance for boredom.
A number of people have been asking me for the next installment of my thrilling series “Why are the French?”. I have heard you and I am on it like white on chalk.