The Black & White

Tired of awkward parking lot encounters

By Rachel Nussbaum

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The Whitman parking lot is a place of many awkward and frustrating encounters. Photo by Sara Allen.

Not to sound condescending or anything, but driving to school every morning is absolutely spectacular. I laugh at those forced to ride the bus. Hah.

So maybe that was a little bit condescending. But the situation was extreme. I used to dread a friend boarding the bus after me, because then I’d have to scoot over and leave my cozy bit of leather. Not even friends can warm that particular spot of my heart.

If that sounded strange beyond belief, I’m sorry. The bus does weird, weird things to your mind.

All of those troubles can be forgotten now, though, because these days I drive. It’s pretty great, with one exception.

After navigating around obnoxiously slow Ride-On buses and glaring at people who cut me off, then presumptuously hold up a hand because hand gestures make it all okay, the effort it takes to make it into the parking lot is, to put it plain and simple, super annoying.

It’s not even the time spent sitting in line that bothers me so much. It’s the people among us who aren’t aware of a little thing I like to call common decency.

Am I being too harsh? Perhaps.  It’s hard not to, though. Allow me to set the scene.

Cars stretch for miles in both directions, farther than the eye can see (slight exaggeration for literary effect). In a civilized fashion, cars on opposite sides of the entrance to the parking lot enter, switching off. Everything seems fine.

A car from the right side goes.  At the front of the line on the left, I rejoice. Finally, my time to shine. I press my foot to the gas, and my car starts forward. I’m so close.

But just as I inch forward, the next car on the right moves in.

Stunned, I stop and lock eyes with the offender opposite me. My moment is ruined.

A second passes, and then he moves his hand, which I take to be a signal for me to move forward, as it usually does. I forgive him the mistake.

After pausing a few seconds to make sure he wasn’t just fooling with me, I start forward again.

Then, lo and behold, so does he.

Cars honk. My cheeks burn. And we both look like imbeciles.

As clearly as humanly possible, I wave for him to go, go, yes really, I mean go. Had I been in water, I believe the terminology would have been “flailed.” He makes a presumptuous hand gesture, which I assume meant a sincere and heartfelt apology, and drives in.

I follow, trying to forget the whole experience.

It’s okay, I tell myself. These things happen. By the time I reach the school doors, I’ve convinced myself that it was really no big deal.

But as it turns out, life hates me, and a guy and I reach the door at the same time. Uh-oh, awkward alert. We both pause, waiting for the other to make a move. Definition of déjà vu. The tension builds, and then I say, “Go ahead.”

His hands looked familiar.

Lesson learned? I don’t even know. I guess the buses’ effect is lasting.


5 Responses to “Tired of awkward parking lot encounters”

  1. Other guy on March 22nd, 2010 12:22 am

    I concur

  2. Ecology Joe on March 24th, 2010 11:10 am

    You and a hundred other Whitman students have a much larger carbon footprint than the rest of us. Isn’t that a bit selfish?

  3. Meteorology Moe on March 24th, 2010 9:28 pm

    Mr. Joe-
    Hardly relevant to what is clearly a light-hearted, and might I add, well-written story!

    However, if you wish to discuss that issue, I don’t believe Whitman students have a significantly larger carbon footprint than whoever “the rest of us” refers to.

    If that statement is a shot at the fact that many Whitman students can drive, and can afford cars, then touche good sir! (and my apologies on behalf of this school for embracing practicality (driving at an amount within reason) over the take-a-bus-ride-a-bike-don’t-drive-your-own-car citizens that populate the rest of the nation.

  4. Dick van Dyke on May 1st, 2010 6:02 pm

    I believe that Joe is saying that the people who ride the bus have less of a carbon footprint. Which is entirely accurate.

  5. emiria on June 3rd, 2010 12:57 am

    hi rachel! you’re funny.