Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sleep Driving, Beautiful.

Here’s how it happened. A couple of weeks ago, I had to go for a wee drive for work. I ended up in a huge parking lot somewhere near Detroit. This wasn’t a special parking lot, but it wasn’t your ordinary parallel right-angled conventional parking lot. No, this was the well thought out fishbone layout. In summary, it’s a one way system, you drive into your space, and when leaving, you back out into that one way flow. Never cross a solid line. Simple! See below for an illustration!

Now, well-thought-out plans are usually conceived by individuals with at least a few hundred brain cells. Unfortunately, when these plans are let loose on the general public, those who possess (or use) less than a handful of brain cells usually mess up. And that is what this is all about. I recently saw one of these plebs mess up.

So, I had just got out of my car. Me is the green spot below. I had my laptop on my shoulder and was just setting out to go into the building, when a black SUV drove past me and pulled into the spot in front of me – probably at 20mph. I also noticed that the lady driving the car had her head tilted to the side, jamming a cell phone to her ear, as she was unable to hold it in her hand and steer at the same time as her other hand was busy holding a coffee which she was drinking as she spoke. Steer, shlurp, and spout simultaneously.

Anyway, as she used the small amount of concentration left over to navigate into this parking space, she obviously had made a calculated decision to drive across the solid white line and into the opposing parking space. Because, it is way way way easier to drive out of a space and head into the wrong way of a one-way system, than it would be to reverse out and play by the rules. So on she proceeded.

What Miss Observant had failed to notice was another car coming into the parking space she was about to illegally occupy. The other car, a silver Grand-Am braked immediately, but Miss Observant had much more important things to be aware of. She simply drove her car into the Grand-Am. Shee-Mash! Not enough to cause major (or even minor) injuries but enough to throw broken light glass everywhere. And, coffee all over Miss Observant.

The next bit got me. Miss Observant jumps out of her car, walks over to the other car, and says, “Why didn’t you look where you were going? I was already in that space” to the lady pulling her shaken self out of the now messy Grand Am. Grand-Am lady was speechless. I was speechless. Miss Observant then put her cell phone back to her ear, and said “I’ve just been involved in an accident. I’ll call you back.” Inconvenient to have an automotive impact interrupt your phone chat, eh? Especially if you’re the cause of it.

A few words were exchanged. Then security turned up and that was the end of it. I gave my details to the disinterested security guy, and I went off to where I needed to be, once again disappointed in the ability of my fellow humans to use this so-called intelligence which separates us from other life forms.

I guess the thing that got me most was Miss Observant’s reaction. I have encountered many people like that – when something goes wrong, the priority is to start blaming the first person you see. Make sure you are not at blame, no matter how blatant the offense was. You see, I’m a long way from perfect, but when I’m involved in something like this, my usual reactions is to shut up and try to analyze the situation. First off, is everyone ok? Second, see if what just happened has set up a situation which needs to be rectified quickly to avoid other problems. Then when all that’s taken care of, figure out responsibilities.

Unfortunately as all this happened in a private parking lot, I doubt if any tickets would have been issued. Perhaps Security called the cops; I don’t know. Personally, I think Miss Observant should be sent back to driving school, given an eye test, and banned from cell phone use for a while.

At least she spilled her Starbucks all over herself.

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