02 December, 2009

Predatory Parking

Christmas craziness has started. It's the 2nd of December and I can't get a parking space at the local shopping centre. This depresses me greatly. It's time to adopt a different approach to finding a car space: - Predatory Parking.

Predatory Parking the practice of driving around and around until you see someone leaving the shopping centre and returning to their car. You drive slowly behind your ex-shopper until they reach their car. You can't get too close to them because if they stop suddenly you will run over them and you will never get their parking space. You need to keep close enough to send the message “I'm really desperate and if you mess me around on this I may not be responsible for my actions”

I have a few hints that might help you develop your predatory skills:

1. Choosing Your Mark.
Being able to pick a shopper (known as the Mark) who is going to give you their park can be an art form.

Bad Marks:
  • Men carrying lots of shopping.
    There is a warning sign here. Men don't carry lots of shopping bags. They don't operate like this. They go to the shops, buy the one thing they need and leave. You will find the man carrying lots of shopping bags can't take it any more and has decided to sit in the car until it is all over. Upon advising his wife of this she has said “fine, you were annoying me anyway. Here, take these bags back to the car.”
  • Mothers with Small Kids.
    This is a risky mark. Kids take a long time to strap in and it is more than likely that just as mum had got all the kids and shopping loaded one of the kids will inform her that he really needs to pee. You could be waiting a long time for this park.
Good Marks:
  • Young Women.
    Young women have the stamina to shop all day without having to do a mid-shop offload of their bounty. They only leave the shopping centre when they are done. Never before.
  • Single Blokes
    They can't get out of there fast enough. Great mark.
Even the best mark can lead you into a dead end as I found out today. I picked the perfect mark: a young women striding confidently through the car park. I assumed the slow stalker position about 10 metres behind her. I slowly followed her the length of the car park until I was edging towards the back wall. I was getting excited … we are it the back corner, her car must be here some where. And then in a flash she changed direction and bolted up a set of stairs to the next level. Godammit, I hate being toyed with.

2. Defending your Mark
There is a moment of weakness in predatory parking where you are exposed to having you carefully stalked parking space nicked by a scavenger. A scavenger is someone who doesn't have the patience and skill to stalk themselves so they rely on momentary loss of concentration from the predator to steal their prize parking space. Much like a hyena – and equally repulsive. The moment of weakness is when your mark has left the parking space but you haven't yet positioned your car into a parking manoeuvre. The scavenger will pretend not to see that you have been waiting patiently and will try to get into the parking space before you. They must be stopped at all costs. Reversing furiously towards them will often frighten them away.

I encountered this on the weekend. A scavenger was sniffing around our freshly identified parking opportunity. I needed at act quickly to frighten the scavenger away so I started waving my arms around and making threatening gestures. I even shouted some abusive comments but since the windows were all closed it's unlikely that this was very effective. Only after I defended the prize park I was told that the scavenger wasn't actually after our space and that she was waiting for another space three cars away.

Sadly predatory parking is more stressful than I can handle and it is best to just avoid the shopping centres for the next month. Where would we be without the internet? Santa is coming to you digitally this year.

What is that I hear? Did someone say I could always catch public transport? BAHAHAHA – get realistic! I live in Sydney!

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