How not to be a jerk in a parking lot

Maybe it’s just me, but lately I’ve noticed that many people aren’t as courteous as they used to be. I’ve spent the majority of my life in Texas, and it really is true what the lyrics to London Homesick Blues says, the home of the armadillo has the friendliest people and the prettiest women you’ve ever seen. Of course, I may be slightly biased.

And while I still think people are generally friendly when they’re face to face, something strange comes over people when they get behind the wheel of a car. It’s as if being surrounded by metal and glass gives you permission to release your inner jerk. Few places highlight this phenomenon better than a public parking lot–more specifically, a grocery or super box store parking lot. So as a public service, I have compiled a handy checklist in order that you might determine whether you’re being a jerk in a parking lot. I know–you’re welcome.

You might be (and by “might” I mean you most probably are) a jerk if:

  • Despite the fact that every tenth parking space in the grocery store parking lot has been replaced by a shopping cart corral, you leave your cart in the closest free space available, quite often precariously close to someone else’s car. Could you BE any lazier or inconsiderate?
  • You remove your groceries from the shopping cart but not the trash you’ve accumulated from free sampling food in the store. That’s disgusting.
  • You take up two parking spaces in the hopes that no one will ding up your fancy car. Which incidentally, makes people want to take a key to the paint job or at the very least put a booger on your door handle. (Or so I’ve heard.)
  • You are the proprietor of a business who puts flyers on people’s windshield. Not only will I never, ever darken the door of your business, but you’ve also denied my the pleasure of balling up your flyer and throwing it on the ground, which is what I really want to do, but I’m not a litterbug.
  • You remove flyers from your windshield and throw them on the ground.
  • You park in the handicapped parking space when you’re not handicapped. And yes, I’m talking to you, Guy who borrowed his grandmother’s handicapped parking permit hang tag.
  • You notice that the lot is full and people are waiting on parking spaces, and yet rather than quickly exiting the space you’re occupying, you choose to change the radio, check your lipstick, email, twitter and Words with Friends games.
  • You leave your young child unattended in the car while you run in to pick up “just a few items”. Not only is this jerky, but it’s illegal in many states.
  • You sit in your jacked-up hoopty, windows down and stereo blasting as the bass loosens the fillings in my teeth. We get it–your stereo is loud and you’re a player. Nobody cares, Homey.

These are but a few incidents I’ve observed while in parking lots. Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to parking lot etiquette or lack thereof?

Editor’s Note: I’m pretty sure this will be the first in a series, because life gives us endless opportunities to act like jerks, no?

And speaking of not being a jerk, as fate would have it, my friend Janet Oberholtzer wrote a post entitled How not to be a jerk when someone’s life changes which offers some real, practical suggestions on how to be kind and not say the wrong thing when someone you know has experienced loss. It’s surprising how many of the things you think you’re supposed to say aren’t at all helpful. You should check it out.

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14 Responses to “How not to be a jerk in a parking lot”

  1. jake May 22, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

    I wonder if I’m becoming a jerk. I don’t do any of those stupid things, but I certainly can be aggressive when I think someone else is acting like a tool…. what can I say?

  2. James Williams May 23, 2012 at 7:53 am #

    All of the above are great examples. I’d add that the person who waits, with right blinker flashing, for a space to open up, because they see that the person in said space is loading their car with purchased items, which means that the space will be free in a few minutes. Meanwhile, the person with the blinker on is blocking other cars behind him/her.

    Bonus jerk points if the above occurs while there is another space already open, less than 40 feet away.

  3. SimplyDarlene May 23, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    Is “hoopty” a real word or did you invent it special-like for this post?

    And are those covered red stalls in the parking lot image where you Texans return your carts? Land sakes, with fancy cart diggs like that why in thunderation wouldn’t a person return their cart?

    Maybe when you are done painting mermaids and the like you could apply for the Commanding Officer Post of the Parking Lot Jerk Brigade? I’ll make ya a hat with a feather in it and get you one of those bike horns.

    toot! toot!

    • katdish May 23, 2012 at 9:00 am #

      From the urban dictionary: 1. hoopty
      Basically, a piece of s**t car. Usually cheap and/or broken down. Can be any size, make or model, but must (or should) be embarrassing to drive for some reason, such as when you bump the stereo all the plastic “effects” you have hot-glued to the exterior rattle, instantly betraying the cheapness of your bling.

      • SimplyDarlene May 23, 2012 at 10:27 am #

        Hey! I used to drive an official hoopty!

        [1964 Ford Fairlane; spray can painted brown (over green); faded red shag carpet in rear window area; failed seat belts; springs that poked passengers in their hindparts; back doors that flew open on sharp turns; an 8-track player that my friends thought was a grilled cheese-maker; nothing hot-glued, but I toted a cardboard cut-out of Bartles & James in the passenger seat]

        I’m in, right? The hoopty club’s newest member.

  4. Jeff May 23, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    Let’s not leave out the people not yet in their cars. I hate it when people cross diagonally and slowly coming out of the store, as opposed to walking straight cross the crosswalk. And the people who walk slowly down the lane toward their car, far enough out that you cannot drive around them? I’d like to hit them with my car.

  5. Laurie May 23, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    Sounds like Texas isn’t so different from Iowa. Well, the people anyway. We get more and more of that loud music business. Young men parking their cars in their own front yard to wash or work on. But the neighbors are subjected to this loud, pounding, rude noise for as long as the men please. So thumping and loud it even bothers my dogs.

  6. Monica Sharman May 23, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    I appreciated your parking-lot insights, and I also appreciated the link to Janet O.’s insights. Thanks.

  7. Louise G May 23, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    Oh my. They do those things in Texas too?

  8. Jason Stasyszen May 24, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    Kat, I have to say I’ve given my kids the choice to stay in the car when I have to go in a grab an onion for our dinner, but only in spring/summer and it doesn’t get hot in AK. That out of the way, the leaving of carts in parking spots drives me crazy. Sometimes people are literally 10 steps away from the returns and they still leave them. So bizarre to me!

  9. Janet Oberholtzer May 24, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

    I agree with your list… though I will admit that I’m guilty of not always returning my cart to one of the cart corrals, especially during the times I had severe pain.

    Thanks for the mention!

  10. floyd May 25, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    A couple more to add to the list; the person who sits and waits, while blocking all traffic, to get the closest space to the front door, and the really important person that speeds like a moron to beat the next person to the open space.

    Getting behind the wheel of a car is like truth serum, it completely reveals the personality of the driver.

  11. tandemingtroll May 30, 2012 at 1:32 am #

    I think someone else posted something about people walking diagonally when they could just walk straight across. People walking slowly in a parking lot in general are pretty annoying. And those types don’t walk alone–they walk in groups in a line stretching across the parking lot so that it is difficult to get past them, especially if the parking lot has two-way lanes.

    I almost got T-boned by a little old lady zipping around a corner in a parking lot. When I mouthed the words “Slow down”, she stuck her tongue out at me. It reminds me that the grey hairs are now the 60’s protesters who did what they wanted to do. People driving in a parking lot like they are on a main road is also pretty dangerous as well as annoying.


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