Finding a parking space at some shopping malls can be a major challenge, as I realized when I visited a mall near my home. I had to drive around for several minutes until I spotted a man who was walking to his car. I followed him to the end of the parking lot and maneuvered my car as close to his parking space as possible, so I could grab it before another driver beat me to it. And then I waited patiently as the man entered his car, adjusted his seat, and proceeded to take a nap.
That’s what happens when wives take too long to shop.
Oh well, at least I didn’t lose a finger over the parking space like a New Jersey woman named Tonya Knight-Joseph. Visiting Cherry Hill Mall recently, she circled the parking lot several times before finding an empty space and pulling into it. She was soon confronted by two women who accused her of stealing their space. One of the women allegedly punched Knight-Joseph in the face and bit her finger all the way to the bone. “It was hanging off by a little piece of skin,” Knight-Joseph told ABC News.
She was admitted to a hospital and needed a tetanus shot and HIV test. But at least she didn’t need a big wooden box.
It’s true – some people have lost their lives during parking disputes. It has happened in many parts of the world, including Delhi, Hyderabad, and, of course, New York City. Fighting over parking is so common in parts of New York City that a group of residents got together last year to form the UPFL (Ultimate Park-and-Fight League). It’s like mixed martial arts, but instead of fighting in a ring, the combatants use a parking space. The winner gets to park there; the loser parks at North Central Bronx Hospital. And receives treatment from a Korean-American physician named Dr. Kwun-yoo Park.
As a longtime driver, I know how valuable parking spaces can be, especially when they’re in short supply, as they are in most large cities. In Chicago, for example, finding a parking space is often harder – believe it or not – than finding a long-lost relative. And I don’t mean the guy on the street who says, “Hey brother, can you spare a dollar?”
Traffic experts have used satellite images to determine that at any given moment in downtown Chicago, there are only seven vacant parking spaces. Technically, only six of the spaces are vacant – the seventh space will be taken as soon as the woman in a BMW figures out how to parallel park her car.
Parking in some cities is so difficult that you might spot one of your friends standing at the bus stop after work.
You: “Hey Jitender, is something wrong with your car?”
Jitender: “No, it’s fine.”
You: “Then why are you taking the bus?”
Jitender: “I didn’t want to lose my parking space. It’s a really good one.”
For many people, finding parking is a challenge even at their homes. They don’t have driveways or garages, so they have to rely on street parking. That’s where parking disputes often occur. The street might be public property, but it’s probably not a good idea to park continually in front of someone’s home. Especially not the home of the guy who looks like he just got released from prison. You might wake up one morning and find that the air just got released from your tires.
If that happens, feel free to knock on his door and say, “I was going to move my car, but my tires are flat. It looks like I’m going to be permanently parked here.”
Don’t be surprised, however, if you soon find yourself permanently parked at North Central Bronx Hospital. And saying to a reporter from ABC News: “It was hanging off by a little piece of skin.”