While I was out shopping for a few gifts for my wife on the Saturday before Christmas, I became aware of an alarming trend. Everywhere I went, there were people that were parking curbside and waiting. Usually someone was in the car, but sometimes not. I saw this perhaps a dozen times in a four hour window of shopping, and I did not once see someone getting into or out of a car – so they weren’t just stopping to pick someone up or drop them off.
My first reaction was just an amazement at how lazy these people might be. I usually intentionally park a little farther away to do some extra walking. The passengers in the curbside-parkers (maybe I’ll just call them curbers) are clearly doing a lot of walking while shopping. Can they seriously not walk the extra 50 yards to a true parking spot? I noticed no handicap parking tags, plus often the handicap spot was literally just steps away and open.
Parking away from the other cars also minimizes the chance of some hitting my car or putting a door ding in it. Not a big concern, but it just takes away some risk of a bad driver or someone not paying attention swinging their newish SUV into a spot or a kid in daddy’s car on the phone or otherwise distracted hitting my car. Blame my Aunt Nancy on this one, as her vintage Volvo daily driver still looks nearly new, and I learned this tip from her.
As i thought about it more, I became a little more disappointed, because these curbers are also really disrespectful to the thousands of other people shopping in at least two ways. First, they’re stopping and parking in what is essentially one lane of two lane traffic. So all the others drivers must go around them, driving out into the other lane of traffic to get around the curber.
When they pull up and stop, any other vehicles behind them are potentially initially delayed as they try to figure out what in the world they curber doing. I actually witnessed this twice, and neither time was a turn signal used – so everyone else sat there for an extended pause before realizing there was nothing blocking the way – these people were just stopping for no apparent reason and had no plans to move. I’m sure it sucks a little Christmas cheer out of some people when they realize they’ve been stuck behind a curber who has just claimed a new spot to wait.
A second way it is really disrespectful is to the shoppers on foot. Now, to get to the store or back to their car, they must cross what was a two lane area of traffic either in front of or behind the curber. Drivers coming from either direction already have to figure out what the yahoo is doing just sitting there, and they also now have limited visibility to pedestrians on top of this extra distraction. So Curbers are putting others at risk purely for their own personal convenience.
Then it gets worse. We’re fighting an obesity epidemic in this country. Curbers are a prime example of the cultural reasons why. People are too friggin’ lazy to even walk to their cars! More importantly, somebody else is happier to just sit in the car and diddle away on their phone while a (presumed) loved one is shopping. GET OUT OF THE CAR AND GO WITH THEM! YOU NEED THE EXERCISE!
Then there’s the whole fuel economy thing, because it was a cold day so every car was sitting there idling. One was definitely there for almost 30 minutes, because I went into three stores and shopped around, and waited in line at two of them, and the car was still there running when i came back to my car. These are probably the same people that will complain about fuel costs and that they have no money to invest in retirement or whatever. It’s because you’re sitting there burning off $2 worth of fuel every hour going nowhere. It’s not the $2, it’s the mentality that accepts the wasteful use of money and time that leads to having no money.
Obviously our local police departments don’t need money – because these people are clearly parking in a no parking and fire zone. An officer could just walk the beat and write dozens of tickets in an afternoon, keeping people safer and encouraging others to be just a little healthier at the same time. There’s probably multiple violations that could cited in most of these cases.
While it aggravates me, overall it just makes me sad. It’s probably a little piece of why people in other countries often thought I was either Canadian or British. They said I was too nice and too friendly to be an American. I didn’t expect everyone to speak English, so how can I be an American? I talked to others, and tried to fit in with local behaviors as much as I could, including walking. 10,000 steps? Try 25,000 to 30,000 on a typical weekend day in Italy, France, or Belgium.
Curbers are just one example of the entitlement and disrespectful attitude that many Americans exhibit. My question is how do we save ourselves? How do we reverse the trend as a society? It’s obviously not an easy answer, except for one part of it: All of us can save ourselves. Take responsibility for your life, your health, your financial future, and for how you treat others. Maybe we can’t fix the United States as a whole (and don’t expect any government to fix it either), but we can make an impact in our part of it; we can make an impact in our lives.
We really should be thinking more about others than ourselves this time of year, but often when we think of others, we get so many good things for ourselves.