It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of car-sharing programs like ZipCar, Modo, or Car2Go. A convenient mode of transport that benefits the environment? I’m all in. In fact, I was tickled to learn that my Danish sister-in-law was the translator who took the text of the German company Car2Go and translated it into several languages for their worldwide expansion.
What I’m less fond of is the fascinating resistance I’ve encountered around these shared cars by people who drive their own vehicles and likely rarely take public transit. It’s happening enough now that I can call it a trend and I’m going to tell you about a righteous fight I engaged in this morning.
When you finish a trip with a car share, the computer system will let you “check in” the car back into the network area so someone else can “check it out” for their personal use. This means that I’m frequently ending my trips and parking near my home. Four times now various male homeowners have rushed out of their houses to inform me that I’m “not allowed” to park in front of their homes.
They’re wrong and today I’d had enough. A few days ago, a fella gave me a lecture about how I wasn’t allowed to park in front of his house because I wasn’t within the car-share zone. I thought he was trying to do me a favor so I checked both the car-share map and the city zoning rules and found that he was incorrect. From past experience I was beginning to suspect that he was using a fear-mongering tactic to dissuade me from parking in front of his house, but giving him the benefit of the doubt I figured I would park in front of his house again and if he decided to get aggressive I would explain to him the error of his ways.
So I park there with my nine-year old and this fella comes rushing out of his house again, immediately lecturing me about how he told me last time I couldn’t park there.
“Except I can. I can explain. Hang on; I’ll show you.” I started pulling up the map on my phone.
“No, you can’t. You’re not allowed to park there because it’s outside of the city limits.”
“I checked. The city limits start at your property line.” I kept trying to explain, but he was talking over me and getting shouty.
“No, the line is in the middle of the street. You can park over there.” He gesticulated, standing in the middle of the cul-de-sac showing me with his arms as though with flag semaphore where I cannot park (in front of his house) and where I can park (away from his house). If only I weren’t so stupid!
“That’s wrong. See, the system lets me lock the door because it’s within the zone. I can show you the map on my phone and explain how it works.”
“Well, I’m going to have your car towed.”
“It’s not my car. You’re welcome to have it towed but you’ll incur the costs because I’m not breaking any rules.”
He disappeared for a bit and I stood by and called the car-share company because I felt this was a righteous fight worth having. As I told the representative when she confirmed that I was legally parked and he was wrong, he wouldn’t be yelling at me if I’d parked a car I own in front of his house. He soon returned with a printed flyer supposedly explaining parking regulations and changed his tack by saying I was parked too close to his driveway.
“You have to be at least eight feet away from the driveway,” he repeated many times.
“Eight feet, you say? No, I have to not be blocking your driveway and I’ve given you about four feet of clearance there. Plus, we’re on a cul-de-sac. You literally have no obstacles coming from the direction I’m parked.”
“I will find the regulation and print it and leave it on your car.”
“This is not my car. You don’t understand how car shares work and you’re scared of them and that’s why you’re angry about these cars parking in front of your house.”
“I’ve owned my home for fifteen years! I pay taxes!”
“So what? I pay taxes. What’s your point? Do you think you own a public street?”
“You can’t park on this side of the street.”
“I’ve confirmed that you’re wrong about that. I’ve confirmed with the company and I’ve tried to show you a city map on my phone, but you aren’t listening. Listen!”
At a certain point I called my partner to explain the situation and he said he was proud of me and not to back down and he was on his way over. I finished up before he made it over as after about fifteen minutes of arguing — me leaning against the car, rebutting his points, my kid calmly standing near me reading a book about Minecraft — his voice began to take on a pleading tone, “You can park across the street. Why is it so hard for you to park right over there?”
He didn’t realize it, but my hands were shaking with anger. I *hate* bullies. He’s got two feet of height on me and he’s been yelling at me and my kid but it’s all my fault because I’m being so unreasonable? Yeah, no. I went full French Girl From New York City.
“Re-park right there? Right over there? You just want me to re-park right over there?”
“Yeah, just there.”
“Yeah, it’s not hard at all. Super easy. But you’ve been unpleasant from the first. You think you own a public street. So from now on, I’m parking in front of your house, and I’m telling all of my friends to park in front of your house, and whenever possible, I’ll grab one of these cars that scare you so much, and re-park it in front of your house, because you don’t own a public street.”
I later realized that he was in that mindset where no amount of new information would have changed his position. This wasn’t about facts, it was a pissing contest and he’s obviously comfortable bullying people into getting his way. When I finally walked away with my kid, he continued to threaten that he was going to have the car towed for “being parked too close to a driveway,” I said, “Have fun explaining to the towing company who you think will pay for that.”
Guys, my new hobby is parking car shares in front of a neighbor’s house. I know it’s childish, but you know what got me?
“I pay taxes.”
Ohhhhhhhhboy. That’s some entitled bullshit right there.