Car-park hogs

‘I could imagine him entering the street and thinking, “I’ll park where I choose.” ’ Illustration: Sturt Krygsman.

  • The Australian, 

It’s a constant fear in my neighbourhood: cars parking across our driveways. We all go to great lengths to prevent it from happening. Neighbours have been known to put witches hats across their drive; paint long white lines on the road; put signs on garages warning that trespassers will be towed away.

Yet there it was, one night last week. A huge black creature. A massive, petrol-guzzling, brand-new, luxury-model SUV, with all the bells and whistles befitting an arrogant bastard. As I stood fuming in the cold night air I could imagine him entering the street and thinking, “I’ll park where I choose.” And in the wee hours, neither police nor ranger would do anything about it.

I walked around the car for ages. Anyone watching me would have seen a lion circling. What was I looking for? Any clue. Any sign of why someone would do it. It was certainly some territorial, primitive feeling elicited in me. I couldn’t sleep for anger and the arguments I was having in my head.

In the morning it was still there. I waited with my coffee mug, coiled and ready to spring. Surely he’d be getting into his car at 7.30am. Nup. Not at 8. Not at 9. Thoughts of the despicable type of person he must be began to outweigh the crime itself.

As I waited, everyone who walked down the street became a potential suspect. Two men in joggers — no, they wouldn’t drive a car like that; father and mother with two kids — no, too showy for a family car.

I finally rang the police. They called back to tell me the owner was on the way. I was huffing and puffing as I waited, rehearsing my outraged speech. My anger was directed not just at him, but at all the people in the world who think it is OK to guzzle energy and resources and do as they please.

Then, stumbling across the road came a frail, young woman, just woken, dishevelled, coughing, spluttering and apologising from metres away. “Oh I am so sorry, SO SORRY … When I got the call I felt sick to my stomach. I have the flu. I dashed out to the chemist late at night on meds … I didn’t see the garage in the dark … But that’s no excuse!”

I never found out how she came to be driving such a massive car. Maybe she worked in a luxury-car outlet? I decided to curb my imagination, propaganda and prejudices and vowed to stop making stuff up.

“I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened” — Mark Twain.

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