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Parking With Love

Parking With Love

Photo courtesy of the L.A. Times

Some people say that they have great Parking Karma. The people who say that parking always sucks tend not to believe much in Karma.

My friend Gina was circling in North Beach one Saturday night looking for parking, so she could meet up with her friends. No luck.  Up and down, back and forth on Columbus Avenue she went.  Nothing.  She was about to catch the green light a block ahead, but a pedestrian was trying to cross at the intersection where she was.  She stopped to let him cross and because of it, she missed the light and lost a spot.  Damn.  By then, she was running so late that she was about ready to give up and go home. 

However, on her next slow pass driving the other direction down Columbus, the very same man waved to her and asked her if she was looking for a parking spot.  She said that she was, and he said, "I'm parked right up ahead, and I'm leaving.  You were the only person who stopped to let me cross. Come and take my spot." Her friends were outside of the bar waiting for her, when she pulled up right in front.  "Wow are you lucky," they said.  She just smiled.

This got me thinking about Karma, and of course Parking Karma specifically.  I think of Karma as the fruits of our actions, being the direct result of what our actions bring others. From a place of kindness, openness, and Love, good things, including rock star parking spots, can and do present themselves.  The impact of our actions on others always eventually comes back to us, one way or the other.

The good news is that this means you have control over your Parking Karma account.  The bad news is that your unconscious driving and parking actions have more of an impact on others than you may realize, and that impacts your Karma account.  Acts of courtesy makes nice deposits into your account; while spot-stealing, and passive aggressive road rage create hefty withdrawals with service fees.  

Something as seemingly innocuous, as double-parking "just for a minute", parking in a bus stop/yellow zone/white zone, parking in a crosswalk, boxing somebody in, or being first in line at the light but getting a super slow jump on the green light because you were texting, all cause the slowing down of traffic, leading to fewer cars getting through the intersection, and a growing ripple effect behind you that you were probably never aware of. 

Because of that one act, in just a few short minutes, because several cars could not get through, the intersections behind it have also become increasingly congested with a few more cars than they would have had. But it doesn't end there.  All of the cross streets along the now congested route begin to back up because less cars are able to enter that street, causing a backup on those streets.  And inevitably somebody gets stuck and creates gridlock. And this all leads to a traffic slowdown that will continue to grow exponentially long after that initial double-parked car has left.  

Selfish acts of driving and parking can lead to hungry, cranky children as a caregiver got stuck in traffic, someone not being able to find a spot and then is late for a job interview because somebody else wasted two spots with one car, a teacher being late for class, MUNI being 15 minutes further off schedule because of this one seemingly "harmless" action...and the list goes on, I'm sure that you've had a related experience.

Try this experiment next time you're driving, especially if you're late and in a hurry. Take three deep breaths, and with conscious intent drive as courteously and mellowly as possible.  Use your blinker, let people merge, park with awareness, and try not to react to others' negativity.  Really, give it a whirl...and watch what happens.  I think you'll be surprised.

Or, for those of you who don't have the time to cultivate Parking Karma the old fashioned way, you can use the post-modern method,by using your micro-processing, computer driven hand-held device that sends and receives signals from a series of satellites that are orbiting the earth, synching with a database, that via infrared signals, knows the real-time availability status of 19,250 parking spots, coordinating this information with the exact location of your moving car on the planet, and in a cheerful voice, guiding you to the nearest available parking spot, by clicking here

For more parking tips, tricks, or to ask a parking question, please click here.