Opinion

Open Letter To City Planners Who Decide Parking Space Size In My Town

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

Congratulations, commissars, you are way ahead of schedule, as the Hybridization of America you desire is nearly complete. Let’s get one thing straight. I have no problem with anyone’s decision to buy a tiny hybrid automobile — the Doug Henning of vehicles — even if at full throttle they sound like George Jetson on his morning commute. After all, many great things in life come in small packages. Jewelry, for instance. And ibuprofen. Well, that’s about it.

Nor am I here to wage a ground war with the pro-hybrid crowd, or you, their chateau generals. When it comes to taste in cars reasonable people can disagree. Plus this is America, and you can buy whatever ride you please. Even ones that look and, let’s be frank, maneuver like those little toilet-cleaning Scrubbing Bubbles from the classic commercial.

No, it’s not the people who buy these cars that I’ll have no truck with. It’s what economists call negative externalities, and what I call things that frost my a**. This is where you planners come in. It’s the parking spaces. Everywhere I go in this town, they’re too small. This is thoughtless city planning. Not as thoughtless as this exchange with Oedipus over coffee:

Friend: Wow, would you look at her, by the French press? What a MILF. Don’t you think, Oedipus? [Oedipus points silently to his gouged eye sockets]. Oh, right. My bad.

But thoughtless nonetheless. And full disclosure: I drive a pickup. Not because I routinely haul manly things around, unless you consider my kids’ tricycles manly. So it’s not like I expect to be top-of-mind when you stack hands over parking space width. But good heavens, man, this narrow?

Was I prescient in warning that a federal prohibition on speed limits higher than 55 mph wouldn’t sit well with Sammy Hagar? Yes, yes I was. But that doesn’t mean I’d never call for a concentration of power. And I think we’re at that stage now: we need a federal standard. Maybe it already exists, and you’re just the messenger. Then I guess my beef is not with you but the standard-setting Federal Triangle hipster magician who probably commutes by unicycle, a scenario which actually seems plausible as only magic can fit my truck cleanly between these lines.

Can’t some agency at least ensure that I get a consumer protection warning on the window, right by the gas mileage? Something like: Note — You will not fit into four out of every five parking spaces you try. And Whole Foods, Apple Store and suchlike places where the better sort shop? Don’t even bother.

Truth? It’s getting to the point where I do substantially all my shopping at places where I know I can park. And this poses its own challenges, as the only places I know I can park are auto-parts stores. Have you ever tried to feed a family at Napa Auto Parts?

Me: Well, go on in, kids. Remember the mission — brake pads, and get yourselves some dinner.

Oldest kid: But dad, I can’t eat another Zagnut bar from a vending machine!

Me: Who said anything about Zagnuts? There are plenty of Snickers on E7. At least there were at breakfast this morning.

And then the unkindest cut of all. Last week I parked in a municipal garage, right there on the corner of You and Don’t Give a Sh*t. I get back to my truck and what do I see? Someone has left a “Don’t Be A Park-A-Saurus” sticker on my windshield, presumably in judgment over my parking effort. This begs a question: who manages your garage, Barney? We’re all adults, there’s no need to message with passive-aggressive prehistoric cartoons. Plus as I recall that day it was just the two of us, me working on a national holiday and your employee slapping stegosaurus stickers on unattended vehicles.

Do yourself a solid and stop payment on the check to whoever told you this would be well received. To wit, my plan was to leave a homemade “Don’t Be a D*ck-A-Saurus” card at your attendant’s booth, where he predictably wasn’t when I tried to leave. Alas, I couldn’t find a pen anywhere in my truck, cavernous as it is. The irony.

So here is where things stand. If you can’t accommodate, and to you I’m just old and in the way, then answer me this. Is there a place I can go, a sanctuary city of sorts, where there are still safe spaces for the likes of my truck? What’s that you say, Wyoming? Got it.