Parking

Talk About Something We Take for Granted …

In just about every movie I’ve ever seen, the hero never has any trouble finding a parking spot directly in front of his destination. And, moreover, if there is a parking meter, he never has a problem getting the exact change or running his credit card. As for myself, I usually find that most meters have either been vandalized or never worked right in the first place.

And that’s not the worst of it. To use a meter, I have to make an existential decision. Which is more important to me? Quarters for parking, or quarters for the washer and dryer in my apartment building? Rarely do the meters accept any of my credit cards: I guess it’s more difficult to vandalize the coin reader part of the device.

Today was a rare day for me: When I went to see my doctor, I found a good parking place on the residential street just north of Wilshire Boulevard. Usually, I have to hike from four or five streets away; and even then I have reason to fear getting a parking ticket. Then, when I went to lunch at Gilbert’s El Indio I got the coveted parking space right next to the front door. And I was able to order the excellent Enchiladas Suizas Monday lunch special.

Speaking of parking, I typically avoid parking garages. It’s a quick way to not only empty your wallet but get your car all dinged up. So I have adopted a practice which I abbreviate as PFAW—short for “park far and walk.” I need the exercise anyway, so if I have to walk half a mile from my parking place, it’s probably good for me, no? I always smirk at the drivers who absolutely have to park right in front of their destination, even if it means messing with the flow of traffic. There is a Trader Joe Market near where I live which always has a bunch of “parking playas” jockeying for the ten desirable spots right in front. I just turn on Granville and park about a block away.

Parking is one of those activities that people don’t usually talk about. Yet you will find that the time one spends looking for a parking place (not to mention the money) adds up when you look at a whole year’s time.

Here’s hoping that the magical parking spaces will suddenly be available to you. If not, may you be philosophical about parking far and walking.

Handicap

Originally a Good Idea, Until the Abuses Started

I am writing this blog post at Martine’s behest. She frequently takes walks around the neighborhood and is disgusted by the large numbers of cars indicating a handicap driver, where neither the driver nor the passengers are in fact disabled. One of the problems of living in West Los Angeles or neighboring communities filled with people who feel themselves entitled to free parking. On some of her walks, up to 75% of the parked cars sport handicap placards. Only twice in the last few days has she actually seen disabled people emerge from those vehicles, one with a walker and the other with a cane.

There is something wrong with people who assume they are entitled to free parking because, well, they are special. It is easy to convince a physician to write a note giving them the right to purchase such a placard. From that point on, until the placard expires, they can park without paying for the privilege.

These same drivers frequently cut me off in traffic, whether I am driving or am a pedestrian. They frequently drive expensive cars such as Porsches, BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes, or—worst of all—Range Rovers.

If there is any single symbol of inequality in our society, it is a luxury car with a handicap placard when there is no disability involved. And yet there are whole parts of Southern California where many or most of the luxury cars sport the blue placard. Everlasting shame to them!

When I had severe osteoarthritis sixteen years or more ago, my orthopedist suggested that I get one. I refused, telling him that my habitual practice was to park far and walk, even though I was in excruciating pain. But then, even then, I walked several miles every weekend with Martine and my friends.

As actress Teri Garr once said: “When you hear the word ‘disabled,’ people immediately think about people who can’t walk or talk or do everything that people take for granted. Now, I take nothing for granted. But I find the real disability is people who can’t find joy in life and are bitter.” To which I add people who assume they are entitled to do whatever they want.