7 Stages of Parking The shameless hunt to find a space for your car

Text: Tug Dumbly



Enter packed car park. Generally, the mood is mild anxiety. But depending on your day, this may sway between anything from cheery equanimity, to victimised self-pity, onto pre-emptive aggression. You might oscillate between all these states. But basically you’re the supplicant here, the begging mendicant, at the mercy of the parking gods.


You’ve circled and still no spaces. Look for people with laden trolleys heading for their cars. Stalk one, like a lion a wildebeest. But slowwwly. You don’t want to spook them. Then again, you don’t want some quicker predator gazumping you. The parked people have all the power here, and don’t they know it! Gesture to that man with the trolley; ask, as obsequiously as possible, if he’s leaving? Other hunters are lining up behind you. There’s a whiff of car-park rage. Does someone else have dibs on the spot you’re staking? If so, how threatening do they look? Is it a bitch mum in a Land Rover? A thug tradie after a slab at Liquourland? Doesn’t matter, coz the bastard whose space you were sizing isn’t leaving anyhow.


You’ve found a fresh mark and sit idling behind them as they load their car. They stop to take a leisurely phone call. Finally they finish packing, turn around and pretend to just notice you, sitting there at the wheel, grinning inanely at them. “Oh no, no,” they flap their hand. “I’m not going yet.”They casually saunter back towards the shopping centre, for sultanas, or a battery, or whatever else the fuck they pretend to have forgotten. But you know it’s just to mess with your head, to pull their little parking power trip. Prick! The chain of cars behind you – Tradie, Land Rover Bitch, P-Plate Student in shitbox Corolla – all give you a dose of the horn.


You’ve circled, spotted and stalked, and now descended a DNA double helix into the Dantean bowels of the shopping centre. Finally, on Below Ground Four (BG4), you spot a car arseing out and you nose in. Yes! The transfer of status and power is immediate. You’re no longer some povo auto refugee, but a proud citizen of the country of Carpark. Shamelessly, you immediately forget where you came from – your roots, the little people – and now look down your nose with contempt and pity at all those poor saps still circling for a space, one of whom you were a minute before.


Shopping done, you head to the car with a fat trolley. Baby, you’re about to peak. This is the payoff. This is where you get to play god and lord it over those parkless suckers. You affect a blithe unawareness of the cars now stalking you, hungrily licking their grilles at the prospect of getting your space. But there’s no rush on your part, not now. Take your time, prick tease the saps. Carefully stow your bags like they were Dodo chicks. Finally packed, turn and see the car waiting for your spot. You feel cheesed that this upstart clown (two nuns, actually) wants to jump in your grave. You slaved for this space and they want it for nix. Fuck that! You sigh, shake head, ‘sorry sister. Not going yet’. No, of course you’re not. You have to return your trolley, like a good citizen. Then maybe take a leisurely piss. Then look at the kittens in the petshop. As the hot cross nuns screech off, angrily laying rubber, you luxuriate in the glow of peak parking power.


You finally return to your car from whatever additional petty mission you pretended to be on. “Yes,” you signal to a waiting car. “Yes, I am vacating the spot and it is yours. You are the chosen one.” (She’s a bit of a spunk, actually.) The pathetic gratitude written on her face at your largesse is a blank cheque that pays you in full, and then some. You are saintly, Samaritan-like. With this spiritual cleansing there’ll be no need to flip two bucks at a street beggar for quite some time.


You’re about to exit the carpark and reach for your ticket to activate the boom gate. It’s validated to give you three hours free parking. It’s… it’s not where it should be. It’s nowhere. FAAAARK! The Thug Tradie, the P-Plate Student, the Bitch Mother and, most especially, the pair of nuns in the cars lined up behind you hit you with a savage cacophony of horn blasts. No choice but to wave your stupid credit card in front of the scan and pay the twelve buck fee to be released. Drive out fuming, cursing. Acceptance will be a long time coming.


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