Winter casualties: courtesy and brains

I recently had to attend the funeral of a teenager who died unexpectedly. As is usually the case when young people are involved, the place was jammed.

This isn’t about the funeral, it’s about the parking lot. And it raises a question I’m sure others have asked: why do people seem to lose their brains and their manners when winter arrives?

On this day, everyone knew parking was going to be at a premium. That’s why so many people showed up early. But because the lot was snow-covered, and parking space lines were obscured, people parked wherever they felt like it, most of them managing to take up 1-1/2 or even 2 spaces.

Occasionally, I see people do this intentionally because they think their car is very special and that everyone else will aim for it. But when it snows, the majority of people seem to do it out of pure thoughtlessness.Winter parking Grocery stores, sports and school events, church services–it’s always the same: Huge gaps between cars so that parking lots lose half their available spaces because people are just too rude to park normally.

That takes care of the courtesy vacuum generated by winter. The other is brains, which I guess are freeze-dried as soon as people take to the streets. Texting, phoning, tailgating, sudden stops (or the attempt, anyway), the insistence on driving at the speed limit no matter what the conditions are…What part of driving-for-conditions do these idiots not  understand?

I remember doing a story about a man who had operated a towing service for many years. During the conversation, he shook his head in disgust.

“They won’t slow down,” he said. “They won’t change their driving style to suit the conditions. And they never learn.”

It’s good business for him, of course. All those cars in the ditch where the drivers’ stupidity put them are going to cost plenty to be hauled out. Wouldn’t you think people could figure that out for themselves?

The next time you pull into a parking space–imagine the invisible lines. The next time you pull out into traffic, think about what the lack of traction is going to do to your timing. And the next time you just have to make a phone call while you’re in the car–pull over. I promise, I’ll do the same.


About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
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4 Responses to Winter casualties: courtesy and brains

  1. Bonnie says:

    Never thought of that, been away from the East too long. But trust me we have our share of drivers that could use some lessons.

  2. Sister Edith says:

    I find that many of the people who take up extra parking spaces are literally thoughtless. One of the aspects of monastic life is shared use of many things, and so we develop a habit of thinking that someone else will be using this thing next, and having a bit of compassion for this unknown other. My Dad teases me when I take an extra pass in parking garages to make sure that people can get into the adjacent cars. Even if they never do it in return, I’m still glad I did.

    • Monica Sawyn says:

      Thinking and acting with others in mind isn’t all that common these days. It’s sad, and part of the reason for many of the inequalities in today’s world. Well, we Benedictines and other believers will just continue to live our faith in a way that makes little, hopefull ever-spreading, ripples, within our worlds.

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