November 10, 2009

"Pay Attention Jack-ass!" Or, A Few Thoughts On Canadian (Non-)Confrontation And An Admission Of My Own Paranoia

I came out of a store yesterday afternoon and found this stuck under one of my wiper blades.Actually, I did not see it until I was driving out of the parking lot. I wondered why I had received a ticket. Where I had parked was not part of a handicapped zone. ... Then I noticed that part of the ticket was green. That's when I thought it might be one of those fake tickets. I had another stop maybe two minutes away, so I looked at it then. Yup.

1. This guy was not "waiting for" the parking space. Thinking back on the situation, he was roughly two or three seconds ahead of me and had driven his car past the empty space.

2. Because of this "citation", I believe he had driven past the empty space he wished to park in because he planned on backing up into the space.

2a. Backing up into parking spaces is a strange phenomenon I have found quite common in Canada, though since I lived in New York City for 17 years prior to moving here in 2005 -- and there are not many parking lots in Manhattan and we did not have a car -- maybe this is a fairly common practice since the mid-1980s.

2b. Why do people do this? I will sometimes drive through an empty space to park in the empty space that adjacent to it, so I can drive out of the space when I leave. However, I see no point in backing carefully into a space so I can drive directly out later on. What's the benefit? You either drive in and then back out -- or you back in and then drive out?

3. Regardless, this guy had not yet put his car into reverse when I pulled into the empty space. There were no white taillights. He was not "waiting for" the space. No spot was stolen.

4. I pulled in and got out of my car. He could have upbraided me right then and there. I think he was pulling into a space maybe four or five spaces away from where I was parked -- Oh, what a much longer walk he had to make! -- when I got out of my car. Why not say something then?

4a. Canadians are not big on direct one-on-one confrontations. That's a generalization -- and Laura touched on an aspect of it here -- but this webpage of the Council of Ministers of Education backs me up:
Canadians, in general, avoid conflict and confrontation and thus it is not common for people to intervene directly.
4b. This theory goes right out the fucking window, though, once you get on the highway. If you want or need to change lanes, the driver that you will be pulling in ahead of will speed up to deny you the opportunity to change lanes. Also, if you are on an on-ramp and about to enter highway traffic and someone else is about to get off the highway via an the off-ramp that is a bit ahead of where the on-ramp is letting you in, rather than slow down -- which he has to do anyway to go down the off-ramp -- and pull in behind you -- which makes common sense since at the time he is slowing down, you are accelerating to get up to highway speed, he will stomp on his accelerator like a goddamn maniac, cut directly in front of you, meaning you have to suddenly brake and slow down, THEN he'll get off the highway and slow down.

4c. Though being in a car is not a direct confrontation.

4d. This guy didn't even bother to honk his horn when he saw me pulling into what he believed was his rightful spot in the parking lot.

5. He saw these "citations" in a store, thought "This is what I need in my non-confrontational crusade to 'make the world a better place to park'! Look at all these possible instances I can use then in." and bought them.

6. He keeps them in his car, with a pen.

7. He fucking USES them!

8. After feeling seriously aggrieved, this guy grabs his pad of citations (are they in his glove box? does he keep them on the passenger seat?) and his pen, fills the thing out, gets out of his car, walks over to the car and leaves the citation under a wiper blade -- but only after he has clearly seen the other person go into the store and knows damn well he or she will not be coming right out.

8a. I am 100% sure this was a guy.

8b. And I'm not expecting any confrontation to be necessarily loud or obnoxious or laced with profanity. He could make his case clearly and in a normal tone of voice. He could not bring himself to do even that.

9. He filled in the name of the store (Canadian Tire) -- AND the date! Beautiful!

9a. Checking the appropriate box was not enough. He also circled the "infraction" and added some editorial comment. It also looks like he traced over the X to emphasis his disapproval.
Example
I went over to the shopping centre nearby and parked and went off to buy wine. I came back to put the wine in the car and then go grocery shopping. I had parked aways from the store and now there was a car pulled up in the space next to mine. It seemed odd to park right alongside a car when there were so many other spaces around. A guy was standing near the car talking on a cell phone. I went into the store and started shopping. But now I'm thinking that maybe that was the guy who left the note. Maybe he followed me over here and is going to damage my car. And I'm in here shopping. Shit. After a few minutes of increasing paranoia, I leave the cart and walk out back to my car. The other car is there, but the guy is not. My car seems fine. I fake getting something out of the car, note his license plate, walk back into the store, walk past my cart to a section where I know there is a pencil, and jot down the plate number on my shopping list. I then continue shopping and when I get out, the other car is gone and my car is fine.

35 comments:

FenFan said...

Who has the time for this? I would simply mutter "Fuck!" and go off in search of another spot.

richard said...

We back into parking spaces when we know there are no obstacles (pedestrians, vehicles). There might be an obstacle to backing out later on so might as well back in now when the coast is clear. It's really silly, of course, but one of those adorable Canadian quirks. ;-)

Jim said...

I back into spaces. It drives my wife nuts. My reasoning is that I'm already in traffic and can safely back up while looking for pedestrians. Instead of attempting to back out into traffic and have to look of peds and cars that will not stop.
I wouldn't take the time for a citizens arrest if some took my space. That's nuts.

redsock said...

This was a somewhat tight squeeze into the space -- if he had been there long enough before me to begin to attempt to back up, that is.

Now, if there are big cars on either side of you, you need to go slow and watch out for people and/or cars before pulling out anyway.

Who has the time for this?

When I first read this, I thought you were referring to me writing a post about it!

girlanachronism said...

OK, so this is very elaborate and impressive. But come back and drive / park in Boston for a while...it will make that seem downright polite! (And does it say something about me that I want to know where I can buy some of these tickets?) Also, the whole 'speeding up when you see a blinker' thing is certainly far from a Canadian-only phenomenon...

9casey said...

redsock said...


Who has the time for this?

When I first read this, I thought you were referring to me writing a post about it!






It's a lot funnier that way.....:)

redsock said...

I've driven in plenty of big cities, including Boston, and people are inconsiderate dicks everywhere you go.

The thing here is that, from my brief experience, on the highway is the only place many Canadians (or maybe just Ontario-ians) behave like total assholes.

It is a little like seeing someone using the crosswalk and speeding up, forcing them to suddenly run the rest of the way across the street to avoid being hit.

Now when I let some person in before their on-ramp comes to an end and they are maybe forced to come to a complete stop, I mutter to no one in particular, "Don't worry, I'm from friendly New York City, I'll let you in, unlike these aggressive assholes in Canada."

redsock said...

There is a website address on the bottom of the ticket. I won't be typing it, but maybe it's visible on the scan. Any dumb card/novelty store in the mall should have a big variety of them.

If the guy had yelled at me, I would not be posting about it. It was getting the "ticket" that made this so funny. And once you start writing about it, before you know it, you're at 1,000 words.

Gareth said...

When we were on a cross-continent road trip a few years ago, we drove through Canada for a day or two. Within about 60 seconds of crossing into Canada my wife (then girlfriend) and I were asking each other, what the hell just happened? The highway driving was completely crazy - and it seemed to step up another notch when we crossed into Quebec. It seemed so completely out of tune with the standard national stereotypes!

redsock said...

As a kid growing up in northern Vermont, there was a definite stereotype about insane Quebec drivers, though I think that was mostly about speeding.

L-girl said...

Who has the time for this? I would simply mutter "Fuck!" and go off in search of another spot.

Exactly.

It's really silly, of course, but one of those adorable Canadian quirks.

It's also British.

It's also not adorable.

L-girl said...

but only after he has clearly seen the other person go into the store and knows damn well he or she will not be coming right out.

The fear and avoidance of anything that can be remotely described as confronation - including simple, direct communication - is my least favourite thing about Canada and Canadians.

Yet I find myself increasingly adopting these ways, and becoming more and more likely to use these passive-aggressive techniques.

I friggin hate it.

I feel my inner New Yorker dying.

charlie pioli said...

Haha read the other citations!! "Owning a Hummer" is one that deserves the name jack-ass

johngoldfine said...

Mainers either do or don't--back in, that is.

And you can tell a lot about the way a man sees himself (women are almost all nosers-in) by whether he backs in or not.

Backers-in need a quick getaway! They may decide, spur of the moment, to rob a bank! They may be pissed and need to leave rubber to comment on the situation! They want to be first out of the lot when the movie breaks! They may get a call from the volunteer fire department and need to haul ass fast. They may have had too many beers to be able to back out safely!

Yes, there are many reasons and many exclamation points in the average Maine parking lot.

And, I am compelled to confess, redsock, that I have been a back-in in Maine lots since 1964....

Side-comment to l-girl. You could have fooled me about your inner New Yorker withering away....

L-girl said...

Men and women back-in here. A co-worker explained that you're more alert when parking than when pulling out! No idea what that is based on, thin air, I believe.

Side-comment to l-girl. You could have fooled me about your inner New Yorker withering away....

I'm glad. :) I think my comrades in the war resisters movement would agree.

But I see it in many small interactions at work or with my neighbours. I'm glad to be polite, but when I catch myself shying away from direct communication, I dislike it.

redsock said...

It is good that we'll be in NYC two weeks from today, as part of our Thanksgiving week in NJ.

We should spend a day pointing and screaming FUCK YOU! at everyone on the street and shoving people on the subway.

Gotta stay sharp.

richard said...

A co-worker explained that you're more alert when parking than when pulling out! No idea what that is based on, thin air, I believe.

It's probably not based on anything but it "feels" right. Which is why I usually back in (if there are no obstacles as explained in my previous comment)

L-girl said...

It's probably not based on anything but it "feels" right

Not to me! To me it feels ridiculous.

This is completely down to what you've been taught, how you learned to drive. Then people make up some bogus reason why the way they learned is the better way.

richard said...

Yes but... I know someone who was hit by a car backing out but I've never heard of someone hit by a car backing in.

I wonder if they keep statistics of how many pedestrians are hit either way. It would be interesting to look at that.

L-girl said...

Well, I know someone who saw Jason Varitek hit a home run.

I'm not saying your way is silly. I'm saying it's silly to think your way is better.

richard said...

Well, I know someone who saw Jason Varitek hit a home run.

That's a classic! I literally LOLed

Of course I don't think my way is better. It just feels better to me which is why I do it. Isn't that the reason we ever do anything in the first place?

L-girl said...

That's a classic! I literally LOLed

Then I haven't had a completely wasted day.

Benjamin said...

Perhaps you should carry around some of that company's go-to-hell note pads for contingencies like this.

A Conformer said...

I gotta chime in on the back in\out dilemma. Backing in is easier because you're on the road, so if a car comes from behind you, you'll see it in the rearview mirrors easily. If you're backing out of a tight spot with cars on both sides, it's hard, and sometimes actually impossible, to get a line of sight to the road. If you're facing outwards, though, there's no problem.
Of course, this is much more relevant in Jerusalem, where people often park so close to each other there's not enough room to open the door (or, if you're parking parallel to the sidewalk, you sometimes have to 'kiss' the car in front of you and/or behind you to get out... but that's more of a Tel Aviv thing), than on a North American strip mall parking lot.
Any way you cut it, the story is amusing as hell.

accudart said...

This was great! I don't get to see Allan pissed off much these days....I thought maybe the years had mellowed you, great to hear the rant.

I think I want one of those pads however, want to write my own tickets:)

accudart said...

I can see a case being made for backing in. I don't do it that way but it makes sense.

redsock said...

This was great! I don't get to see Allan pissed off much these days....I thought maybe the years had mellowed you, great to hear the rant.

You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little fucked up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?

FenFan said...

>>Who has the time for this?

When I first read this, I thought you were referring to me writing a post about it!


Whoa! Haha, no, I found the post to be an amusing distraction from an otherwise hectic work day. :-)

bwsmith25 said...

You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little fucked up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?


Just... you know, how you tell the story, what?

andy said...

Yeah I thought at first it was a troll as I read the comments and hardly ever look to see who wrote them unless there is something interesting. This was interesting I really thought the comment was about the post. Was funny because I love trolls. Seriously though it is nice to hear that all is not perfect in our hat.

redsock said...

Just... you know, how you tell the story, what?

No, no, I don't know, you said it. How do I know? You said I'm funny. How the fuck am I funny, what the fuck is so funny about me? Tell me, tell me what's funny!

redsock said...

it is nice to hear that all is not perfect in our hat.

:>)

A Seawolves Fanatic said...

In my local crap of a newspaper it stated the varitek exercised his option for 2010, what sis you guys hear?

redsock said...

He's baaaaack!

impudent strumpet said...

This is the weirdest thing I've heard in I don't know how long.

Someone had the idea of those notes. And someone else said "Yeah! Let's manufacture them!" And then someone else said "I know, I'll sell them in my store!" And then someone ELSE said "Those are just what I need! I'll use them all the time!"