I’ve often marvelled at natural history programmes and how herds are organised and operate as one collective unit – despite being made up of many individuals. Nature, it would seem, finds ways of sorting itself out. Pity then, that the same cannot be said of humans. Witness the car park stampede on a Saturday lunchtime for proof of my theory. If you haven’t had this pleasure, especially bad as we approach the festive season, permit me to enlighten you:
The premise is a simple one: pop into town, park, visit one store, come home. No dramas there. What makes this a unique experience is the swarming hoards of other people who share the same idea. The first problem is finding a car park that doesn’t say ‘FULL’. When you find the only one left with spaces there are invariably a billion other cars waiting to get in, often only allowed entry by the exit of another car.
So we wait. You get to the barrier and the machine says ‘FULL’ (oh quel surprise!), so we wait some more. Problem is that the people behind you don’t understand why you are sat there like a prize plum doing nothing. Then the horns start going. Oh man, the pressure is intense. All you can hope for under these amounts of stress is that one car will appear from round the corner and make their way out; thus letting you in. It is of course at this point where the real fun begins. Having got your ticket you are in, finally. Time to punch the air and wave goodbye to the sad losers that are queuing behind you…
…and then the reality hits you.
In a car park with 400 spaces I am now trying to find the single space vacated by the guy who just came out. Are you kidding me? How the hell do I find that before someone else behind me does? Most modern multi-storey car parks these days have specific directions of flow so if you deviate off these to look for your space you can find yourself joining the main flow behind the guy who was behind you at the barriers! Now he has the upper hand. We both know that there are now TWO spaces to be had but neither of us knows where they are. He is in front though so if he gets one on the lower levels then it’s me who has to go round and round heading towards the open air level at the top. And let’s face it we all hate parking on the top level right?
Then there’s the time wasted trying to find the coveted space. Yes, you are paying for this even before you park. I wasted 25 minutes trying to find that one space. Of course, now the dynamics have changed even further as each car comes in to through the barriers there are more and more cars looking for more and more spaces. Suddenly you turn a corner and someone’s pointing the other way or gesticulating at you. Hang on, there’s a flow around here pal – stick to it! Of course, what he is actually doing is reversing into MY space, he found it before me. These are desperate times.
I never support public transport, not from a green point of view, but because of my love of cars and driving. My car is a pleasure, an experience I savour and produces emotions I find addictive. This is why public transport fails to awaken any kind of enthusiasm for me. However, after the debacle of last Saturday I’m taking the Park n’ Ride from now on – even if it means sitting next to some fat bloke who hasn’t washed his clothes for a month.