A few days ago, the very popular secret-exposing website PostSecret posted a round-up of ‘Classic Secrets.’ The whole point of PostSecret is that it’s a judgment-free zone where strangers’ anonymous secrets, sent in to the web owner Frank Warren, are posted on Sundays without comment. Sometimes the revelations come off as being completely amoral, and yet, we must also remember, entirely human. Other times, secrets are nothing more than amusing proclamations written by people who just want to whisper something brief to millions of people on the internet. Oftentimes, round-ups will be a mix of both, and in last Sunday’s PostSecret “drop,” the collection included this:
The question of whether to adhere to parking signs that declare certain spaces are reserved for either expectant mothers or simply “parent and child” has long been a discussion topic on STFU, Parents, and in society in general. There are are so many facets to this discussion, you could probably fill every space in a parking lot with a person who has a different point or opinion. First and foremost, in the U.S. it is not illegal to park in these spaces if you don’t have a child, as opposed to parking in spaces that are reserved for people with a disability, which IS illegal. Most people remember a time — decades, in fact! — that the courtesy parent parking spaces didn’t even exist. Parents of an older generation will tell younger parents to stop being so precious, to park farther away from the store entrance if they must, and to generally stop acting so entitled about something as absurd as parking. (Perhaps the definition of “first world problems.”)
But today’s generation of new parents begs to differ, claiming that cars are bigger now, and the spaces provided don’t allow for easy access and maneuvering of getting kids and babies (who have car seat carriers) out of their cars, or SUVs, or small tanks, or whatever it is their parents and members of their community drive. More frequently, though, parents complain that parking far away from the entrance is a hassle, and one they shouldn’t have to contend with. Just look at all the blissful childless people out there, strolling with their carefree smiles, parking wherever they want, and oblivious to the fact that parents have shit to do, not to mention shit to carry. Damn those selfish fools and the menacing looks they cast upon wailing babies in the frozen foods aisle! This argument goes back to the idea that parents (specifically mothers) should receive special treatment simply for being parents, which many people (including many parents) think is horseshit. And that’s where the word “courtesy” tends to fly out the window.
These spaces are courtesy spaces for one important reason: If you don’t have a disability, you are able-bodied. However, if you are a parent of young children, or an expectant mother, you probably really would benefit from the use of these spaces, not only because they’re supposed to be wider and more accommodating to vehicles, but because going to the store with kids really is a pain in the ass. Unfortunately, though, LIFE is also a pain in the ass, and people often don’t have time to circle a parking lot when there’s a perfectly good space available (legally) that they can park in, even if that space is “reserved” for parents. Sure, it’s nice to leave the spaces open, but some would argue that pregnant women greatly benefit from the exercise (unless they are truly disabled by a pregnancy complication, at which point they can register for a temporary disability sign). Some would argue that generations of parents parked their cars farther away from the store when they towed along young children to Whole Paycheck Foods, and they didn’t complain about it, they just walked a few extra feet (not miles) to get inside. Some might even argue, in fact, that they would consider leaving those spaces open, except they’re tired of parent entitlement and don’t care to participate in it by treating parents like victims who need to be coddled as much as their precocious children. It’s with this attitude that I believe the PostSecret above was written.
For that reason, my opinion is aligned with the PostSecret site mission: No judgment. Whether you leave the parent parking spaces open or not, I will not judge. I will, however, judge parents who take the time to yell at strangers, whine, or get incensed over this silly injustice by complaining on the internet. My sympathy for parents is usually pretty high, but my tolerance for Facebook rants over stupid bullshit is exceedingly low. Let’s check out a few examples.
Philip, I don’t know if you were bar mitzvah’d or not, but I’m here to tell you that now is the time you can finally call yourself a man. It took years of aggression-honing to bring you to this point, but now that you’ve finally yelled at a stranger over something as banal as a parking space — and then took the time to outline your indignation on Facebook, appealing to your equally awesome friend Jp — you deserve the title of Man. Get Ashley to make you a big ol’ steak.
2. Trade-Offs And Negotiations
Parent parking ignorance is not only a problem in North America, but it’s a global problem, as well, with mothers as far away as Australia griping on Facebook about being inconvenienced. The thing I find interesting about all the parking lot whining on Facebook is that inevitably some parent (if not the original poster) will say something like, “Did u give them an earful??!” It’s this exact mentality that people who choose to park in those spaces are railing against. I believe they call this “cause and effect.” The more parents openly taunt or scold people who park in those spaces without any kids in sight, the more frequently those people will choose to park in them.
Another example from Melbourne, typically ranked one of the world’s most livable cities, unless you interview parents in parking lots. Apparently Melbourne has a whole Facebook page devoted to shaming “poor parkers,” which sounds like a great way to spend one’s free time, and now Hayley has a perfect example to share with the page! But until she does, please do share the image she posted on her personal page. It’s a VERY important form of activism, especially since this person obviously kicks kittens for fun, and god knows management isn’t going to do anything about it! Considering, you know, the driver didn’t actually do anything wrong. (Note: I edited out the driver’s license plate, but if you find a way to get in touch with Hayley, I’m sure she’d read it off to you in a flash.)
4. Disabled Parking Spaces > Parent Parking Spaces
One of the most useless, inconsiderable, and common debates in modern parenting centers around the number of disabled parking spaces compared to the number of parent parking spaces in parking lots. Now, if you’re not an asshole, or you know someone who’s disabled, you probably wouldn’t ever think to bring this up out loud, much less think it in your head. But some parents simply cannot understand WHY the handicapped among us get such royal treatment in parking lots. In a nutshell, their argument is this: “Yeah, yeah, we get it, some people are disabled, but how many of those people are DRIVING and SHOPPING? How many of them know what it’s like to shop with small children? And why are so many parking spaces dedicated to goddamn cripples when, HELLO, parents need those spaces equally as much, if not more! Parents go shopping all the time. PARENTS spend more money than any average single disabled person. So, then, why is there such a ratio imbalance of parking spaces?!?!?!”This is similar to the argument some parents make about “old people.”
I’m not hating on Allison (aside from her cutesy self-celebratory winky face status update), because I fully believe that if you fit the description of an expectant mother, by all means park in the expectant mothers space. Keep in mind, though, that those spaces are technically reserved for women who are in the “waddling” stage of pregnancy, rather than the “OMG I just found I’m pregnant two weeks ago” stage of pregnancy, and if you take a spot for yourself, you might be doing a fellow “mama” a slight disservice. If that sounds kind of stupid because ALL pregnant women should be allowed to park there, especially if they’re feeling lazy and it’s raining, well now you know how the average non-pregnant person feels about parking there, too. We’re all lazy sometimes, especially when it’s raining. Which begs the question I’ve been asking for years: Where are the courtesy Feelin’ Lazy parking spaces for everyone else??? Sometimes I’m too lazy to walk more than five feet from a store’s entrance before dropping down on all fours and crawling. Who will cater to my preference?!
6. Mom’s Gold Star
Finally, remember that for every person with a secret (or PostSecret) about utilizing parent parking spaces and NOT having any children, there’s a parent who DOES have kids that’s doing the same thing (and perhaps not as secretly). Just because you don’t have your kid with you doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to the space, too, right? According to L. — aka my new hero — it’s actually rather funny to park in a space without your kid, especially if you’re in a hurry, and especially if some nitpicky man feels authorized to bang on your car window and moan about it. First of all, hey dude, did YOU carry and deliver a baby from your body? Didn’t think so. And secondly, cars are private property. If you touch someone’s private property just to complain about how they’re occupying a space that’s open to the public, you’ve officially jumped the shark. It’s time to step back into your vehicle, close your Facebook app on your cell phone, and peacefully drive away.