Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Parallel: Parking

How is it that the most mundane of events can cause someone to question their very humanity?

Yesterday, en route to my day job, I stopped at a local chicken joint. Getting into this particular place requires a sharp turn off a major thoroughfare. After maneuvering the tricky turn, I noticed that a crew of contractors had commandeered the parking lot. Three men stood directly in the path of my vehicle, talking and laughing. Despite their acknowledgement of my presence, none of these men (all of whom bore resemblance to Larry the Cable Guy) bothered to move. It wasn't until I crept up literally to their Achilles tendons that they finally stepped aside. They looked incredibly annoyed. One of them, wearing a yellow shirt and apparently not much older than me, bent over and squinted at me as if to say, "Who the hell are you to be driving in our parking lot?"

I parked and jumped out. As I walked to the side door of the restaurant, I realized that the parking lot had no actual cars in it, save for a handful of company trucks and construction implements. Then I saw that the restaurant had been completely gutted. From the road, this was not particularly obvious. "Damn!" I thought. "This sucks, but I'll just go someplace else." I glanced at the men, who continued to stand there and glare at me with squinty eyes.

I drove around the restaurant (or what was left of it), only to find two cones and some kind of wrecker blocking the way. After lapping the parking lot twice, I realized that every other exit had been blocked off by trucks (couldn't they have at least blocked the biggest turn of all?). Right before finally finding my way out, I noticed that the three men were laughing and jeering at me. At no point did any of these men ever approach me or otherwise signal that the place was under construction, and nothing from the vantage point of the major thoroughfare suggested that either. These guys were giving me a hard time over a simple mistake, and it certainly didn't help my disorientation. Yellow Shirt gave me a final smirk and nod as I drove off, and I replied in kind by arching my brow and mouthing a certain word I don't usually say.

On my way out, I noticed the contracting service's trailer. It had a giant state of Texas on it. When I'm inconvenienced and mocked, the last thing I need is a reminder of how many Texans (and other out-of-staters) have treated me that way over the years, by virtue of my assumed inferiority to them. That then leads me to thinking about politics, which by default severely cripples my sense of decorum. Still, I do know when to let things go, and decided to just brush it off.

But the more I think about this ultimately minor incident, the more it seems like a microcosm of everything that's happening now, and where us progressives fit into it. Though everything seemed reasonable when I drove in, I suddenly found my path blocked by arrogant rednecks who deliberately ignored my presence. Then I found myself trapped in a maze of their design, wasting my sparse time while being ridiculed by these smug jerks from Texas. Had I actually confronted these men over their behavior, I probably would have come off just as badly. Instead, I did the only thing I could do--get on with my day. It's quite a parallel to today's society.

I continue to wonder why people like this have so much power and clout in America. But more importantly, I wonder how such an event can actually make me so mad and question my humanity. But this is really what's happening in this country right now. Except that we can't afford to drive away.


Anonymous said...

You could always buy the new Lexus that parallel parks by itself and would not be so kind to the Achilles'

Ian McGibboney said...

Because that's a feasible goal for me at the moment!

It takes little more than a pickup truck to strike fear in any Achilles. Actually, anything with wheels that roll does the trick.