Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In Which We Are Still Not Annoyed

Yesterday morning Jer and I stopped by our favorite coffee shop in downtown Puyallup to grab a cup of coffee and some breakfast. We go there often enough that we're considered regulars; the owner greats us by name and gets our drinks started before we order our food.

While they've got great coffee there, this post is not about Central Perk, the aforementioned coffee shop. This post is about the public parking lot just down the street.

Now, Puyallup has a free public parking lot in the middle of their downtown area, which is fantastic. However, the handicap spot in the parking lot is a regular handicap spot and not a van spot. For those of you not familiar with the difference, a van spot has at least an eight foot "no parking zone" next to it. This allows enough room to deploy the ramp.

Our van has a bumper sticker on the window located on the ramp side of the vehicle that asks people not to park within eight feet. However, no one ever looks at this thing because invariably we'll get back to the car and even though the parking lot is half empty somebody has parked right next to us. Yesterday morning was no exception. Whenever this happens it means that Jeremy and Connor have to go back to the sidewalk (since Jer can't push Connor out of the way and push himself if a car is coming), and I have to get in the van and drive it to a different part of the lot that has two spaces open next to each other so that they have room to get in. Then after I park the car I have to get out and walk back to where they are waiting so that I can grab Connor.

It's completely understandable if the lot is full and there are no other spots for someone to park next to us. No big deal-- it only takes five minutes or so. But it does get a little frustrating when there are fifteen other spots open in the lot and we come back to discover someone has parked right next to us again. At least it was relatively nice outside yesterday. It's especially frustrating when it's 38 degrees outside and raining. So we decided we needed to come up with a solution to this problem.

First we discussed keeping a traffic cone in the trunk of the car and putting it in the space next to us when we parked. But people move cones out of the way or run over them all the time. Then we thought about training one of the cats to guard the spot. No dice-- people move them out of the road or run over them all the time too. Plus our cats wouldn't train too well-- Cricket is terrified of cars and Loki would probably try to get the car to pet him. So we scrapped that idea. Finally after much thought we hit on the perfect solution.

We'll use a duck.

Think about it-- who runs over ducks? No one, that's who. Ducks cross the road all the time, often at ridiculously slow paces, and nobody runs them over. People actually put up signs on the off chance that ducks might be crossing the road, so you know not to run them over. Who does that for cats? Also we could teach the duck to guard the car, which would deter would-be burglars quite handily. Those things can bite hard. No one would move the duck out of the way for the same reason. We'll just get it a Tupperware container full of water and keep it in the trunk.

And if we were trapped in the desert we could cook duck eggs on the hood of the van while we waited for help to arrive!

The only other animal that can sit in a road with impunity and not get run over that we could think of is a cow. But a cow, even a very small cow, would not fit well into our van with the wheelchairs loaded in. Cows would probably be better put to use guarding airplanes, a job which ducks cannot do. Ducks and airplane turbines do not get along too well, but you never hear about cows being sucked into those things, so they'd be perfect for the job.

Anyway, that's the plan. Shortly after we finish putting the finishing touches on our Wheelchair Defense System, we'll start work on our Duck Parking Guard!

I think it'll be a hit.



J. said...

I would park in 2 spaces and be that goober who everyone curses as they look for a space

Kristin said...

oooh, I like J's idea.

leah said...

You know, they make "mini-moos" (miniature cows). Still might not be small enough for the van, though.

The only thing I could think of was some kind of retractable bar attached to the van, that would swing out to a distance of 8'.

I think the duck idea is best. They're trainable, you know- I've seen them march into a hotel lobby and jump right into the fountain.

Julia O'C said...

Thank you for this post. I'm usually so distracted by Thing I and Thing II to pay attention to any sign that might be on a car/van telling me not to park near it. I'll pay closer attention next time I park next to a designated handicap space.

Maybe 4 or 5 cones would do the trick? Although ducks would be much cuter.

Julia said...

I agree with Julia O'C -- this wasn't on my radar screen at all, and I'll be more mindful in the future. Any chance you could petition the city council to mark off the adjoining place so that the two spots together become a proper van spot?

The only downside to the duck plan would be...ummm...elimination. Ducks can produce a lot more material than just eggs. Duck diapers, maybe? You know, a deer might work, because everyone's terrified of running into deer -- but I guess the antlers would present a visibility problem when you're driving.

Galen said...

While the duck system has its appeal (quack), I was thinking of some sort of flexible arms (PVC pipe?), that could somehow be attached quickly to the side of the van, with red flags at the end, to extend out to mark the space needed? But I really think the parking lot needs to comply with the regulations and put the properly sized handicapped space on the lot.

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom said...

You just need one of these:

xraevision said...

You are the epitome of optimism. What fantastically creative and humorous ideas you've come up with.

Following the deer theme, perhaps with the impending Christmas season, you can find large fake deer antlers and attach several pairs, complete with mini twinkle lights, along the sides of your van, a sort of tribute to Santa and his reindeer. I, for one, would park my car at least eight feet from a huge van adorned with flashing antlers.

But you could avoid all of this work and the funny stares by just taking up two spaces.

leah said...

I can attest to the duck-poop thing. We had ducks when I was a kid. They pooped. A lot. Also, even though the duck-selling-man promised my parents that the ducks would eat all the snails out of the garden, our ducks turned out to have a refined palate. They wouldn't touch the snails.

Some people have giant fake deer in their yards. Maybe you could pick up one of these and put it in the adjacent parking place. Hey, you could even deck it out in seasonal apparent (deer with a Santa hat, deer with Easter bunny ears)... oh, the possibilities!

I tried to find the life-size plastic deer online, to no avail. Where do people get those things?

jwg said...

You need one of those arms they put on ice cream trucks to stop traffic from passing.

leah said...

Aha. Found where the giant fake deer come from. They have the added bonus of detachable legs. You could attach a sign to the deer, like,

"Doe not park here."


"Don't Buck the system. No parking!"

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