How to beat the parking lot

I’m a gridiron, tooth-and-nail parking lot strategist. I study parking lots, how they work, and how people act within their constructs. Ever since I was a young 16-year-old with a permit, I have been fighting insane parking situations and figuring out how to beat them. Show me a parking lot, and I’ll show you a plan for success. Crowded, hectic parking lots reveal fear and anxiety in most people, but I only see opportunity. I have developed a set of terms and explanations that will show you how to master any parking lot situation the world has to offer. Call it expertise, I call it skill. I can work success out of any crazy parking lot situation.

Before we begin, there is one important quality every parking lot warrior must possess: peripheral vision. Here are concepts relatable to any parking situation:

Brake-watching: Looking for brake lights that have just turned on. Obviously, noticing a set of reverse lights shining is the champagne victory of parking lot wars. But, when you notice a set of brake lights that signal a vehicle being turned on, this means a car has been recently turned on. When the brake lights illuminate even further, this is an even more promising sign. The almighty reverse lights should be quickly on the way.

Smoke-searching: Looking for exhaust smoke coming from a recently-started vehicle. Be attentive to that Carbonic pollutant coming out the tailpipe of the car you’re looking to replace. If you see a thin cloud of smoke drifting up into the air, you may have hit a homerun.

Driver-predatoring: Watching for people moving towards a car, or watching for someone holding keys (this specifically I call prizing). This can be an effective technique because if you follow the person correctly, you’re all set. You reach the spot, they get in their car, pull out, and you victoriously pull in. The only risk of this technique is when the person or people reach their car, and you realize that they had forgotten something, and needed to go back to their vehicle to retrieve it. This may result in a series of curses, which is natural (I myself find peace in this). However, this failure should only drive the experienced parking lot warrior to search more diligently.

Trolling: When behind another vehicle, keeping a generous distance behind them, and then turning around in a handicapped spot or striped-off section to search for other spots in the next section when the vehicle reaches the end of the lot without finding an open spot. This technique is my personal favorite. If this explanation is confusing let me provide you with an example. Take for instance, the parking situation at the Village here on campus. There are two “rows” of parking spaces, one on each side of the townhouses. If I pull into the parking lot looking for a spot on the right-hand lot, and there is a car pulling in right before me, I purposely take a slow pace and let them get far ahead of me. The vehicle in front of me drives all the way to the end of the rectangle lot if it is full and there are no spots. I however, pull into the striped-off zone half way down the lot, and turn around. This way, I am now first to check the left side of the lot for an empty spot, which more often than you would think turns out to be the case. Therefore, by trolling behind the other vehicle, I end up getting the first chance in the next section of the parking area.

Spearheading: Finding a person in the lot, asking them where they parked, and then following them to the spot. This technique, vilified by nature, may involve giving the person a ride to their spot, or paying them to show you where their sacred spot is (in extreme situations). If you are a tried and true parking lot warrior, you have no shame, and therefore are willing to spearhead a parking solution through daring measures.

While these concepts should lay the groundwork for a successful parking lot experience, here are some common mistakes that I have observed. Avoid doing the following things in your hectic parking world. It’s for the best.

Goldrushing: Driving past an empty spot hoping for a better spot, losing the spot to the driver behind you. This common mistake happens to drivers who have a “brighter horizons” mentality. If the parking situation you are in is extreme, settle for reasonably close spots: don’t go searching for those glorious spots right next to the handicapped spot. They are few and far between in these instances.

Desperado Error: Unable to find a spot in the desired lot, parking in a handicapped or “no parking” spot. Whether you believe it or not, the desperado error will tempt you at one point in your parking life. Some parking lots have so many handicapped spots, it may make you ask “How is this possible?” or “Is there honestly ever going to be 6 handicapped people at the gym at one time?” I’ve been there. At times it seems that the spots are sensuously calling your name, throwing out an imaginary tow rope and pulling you in. Don’t give in to the desperado, 99 percent of the time it can only end badly, and the result will be worse than the walk you have to make from your crappy parking spot.

Hopefully after reading this you are steered in the right direction for handling any parking lot. Remember: use your peripheral vision. Be attentive. And don’t make any rookie mistakes. Good luck out there in the warring world of parking lots.

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