By Sean McVeigh
Rockaway is not a driver’s paradise. We’re definitely not midtown Manhattan during a winter, Friday rush hour, but it is certainly no picnic. Around here, double parked cars are a way of life. A necessary evil. Our main thoroughfares not only seem to encourage the practice, but often they require it. I would be lying if I said I’ve never pulled up next to a couple of legally parked cars on 129th, made sure there was no one in those cars about to try and pull out, and shot into a store to make a quick purchase. I am no liar and I admit that I am a culprit of the practice.
When it comes to double-parking your car, like so many other everyday activities, there are a set of unwritten rules. These rules are usually pretty simple. They are dictated, not by some law or enforced by some overarching body politic, but by a little something known as common sense. These unwritten rules have the arduous task of drawing a line. A very thin line that separates what is socially acceptable behavior from what is not socially acceptable behavior. This line, when crossed by someone, does something to me. It makes me see red. It creates in me a feeling of pure hatred and disgust. It makes every fiber of my being wish terrible things upon this breaker of rules, this crosser of lines. Hell hath no fury like a driver scorned.
I’m sure you have been there. You are driving in your car, probably on a two-lane street, maybe a wide single lane, and all of a sudden, traffic in your lane comes to a halt. Is someone quickly letting someone out of the car? Is everything OK? You give the unwritten 20 second grace period, but then you see the cars in front of you begin to merge. Now only one lane is moving. You finally get to the scene and, using your Mr. Fantastic-like rubber neck, you take a peek into the double-parked car. Surely the person must be in dire straits, something terrible must have happened! NOPE. Sitting there, as if nothing is going on around them, is a person calmly and obliviously in the driver’s seat. Just so we’re clear, that is the seat where they can move the car if they so please.
In what world is it OK to stop your car in a lane of once smoothly moving traffic? What sort of impudence must you possess for this to be an appropriate action in your mind? Maybe I am the sucker, but when I have to stop in a lane of moving traffic for even a second, either to pick someone up or drop someone off for example, and I can see a car within 100 feet of me, I act as though the world is crumbling around me – this is the end. I am a failure and disgrace to my family name. The feeling of guilt and shame I have for the possibility of stopping traffic is suffocating. I yell and scream at the person to get in. I pop the door, start rolling and make them do the old run and jump because I will not be seen as a line crosser. And yet for others, for the bipedal, human-adjacent, beasts who double park and just sit there without a care in the world, they are unfazed and unbothered.
There are different degrees of this person. The ultimate version being the reprobate that double parks directly in front of wherever it is that they need to be (as is their cosmic right as the most important person in the universe) and when you finally manage to squeeze past them, there are three open spots 15 feet in front of them.
Driving elicits raw emotions. People change when they are behind the wheel, and I can’t blame them! Because for other people, driving brings out raw stupidity. Even writing this, just thinking about these situations, my blood pressure is reaching dangerous levels. And while it’s hard to judge people (even if I plan on doing that here very often) without knowing what exactly is going on, sometimes after the temperature of my blood drops below 212 degrees, I do feel some pity. Maybe they truly don’t know what they are doing is wrong? And then that catches fire, caught in the flames from my fury and I am right back to where I started.
Lord help me if I am ever caught double parking my car now. I guess I would just have to do a column on hypocrites…