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Parking Garage Madness - Is there a "Space" for manners?

By Stephen C. Schultz


It's Saturday night and my wife and I just came out of a movie. The theater was at the mall, so we parked in the parking garage. Cars were prowling around looking for an open space. (Obviously we weren't in the parking garage that is pictured below. But, that is one cool garage!)

I get in the car, put my foot on the brake, and start it. Immediately two cars emerge on either side of my space, each wanting to pull in when I leave. Each car has a couple, probably in their early to mid twenties. My guess is, that they are arriving to see a movie as well. Both vehicles have their blinker on signaling their desire to turn into my space when I leave. As I started to back out, they each started inching forward, hoping to effectively beat the other into the space.


I looked over my left shoulder and slowly started backing out to my left. The problem was, that I could no longer continue backing out. The car to my left was inching too close to the rear of my car. I started to turn my wheel to the right and pull forward, but the car to my right had moved in as well and was blocking the front of my car. It was a stalemate, and I was stuck in the middle. For the car in front of me to back up and allow me to pull forward, would be to let the car behind me have the space. For the car behind me to back up and allow me to back up further, would be to allow the car in front of me to pull in and get the space.

So, I inched forward turning my wheels, then backward, then forward, then backward. I must have done this ten times and finally created enough space to squeeze by the car in front of me. What I found interesting was that each couple simply sat there watching me maneuver with no apparent concern for the situation my wife and I were in. The car behind immediately started to maneuver into the space. The car in front of me laid on the horn and honked solidly for at least 30 seconds. (In a parking garage, 30 seconds is a long time!)

Whatever happened to manners? What ever happened to politeness? Whatever happened to "Do unto others..."? I look at society in general sometimes and I'm saddened at what I see. This experience reminded me of some research I read where Empathy among college students has decreased 40% since the year 2000.

Over the course of my career, I have had the opportunity to interact with hundreds of young people and their families. The one issue that seems to be consistent is the "Center Of The Universe" mentality they have developed over their relatively short lifetime.

I'm interested to know your thoughts on this topic. Don't hesitate to leave a comment.

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