The Home Team: Bumper cars at Starbucks on Post Road East
Updated 6:23 am, Monday, March 9, 2015
I was halfway through my turn from the right lane on the Post Road into the parking lot when I noticed the car heading for the same entrance from the left lane of oncoming traffic. Clearly, I had the right of way: I was on the same side of the road as the lot, and I was making a right turn.
But in terms of fairness, had he already started his move before me? Had I not noticed him? Ah, whatever. There's probably only going to be one parking spot left -- and guess who's getting there first?
And so it goes at the Starbucks parking lot.
To be clear, I'm talking about the Starbucks near the Sherwood Diner, not the one near Main Street and the Saugatuck River. I'm sure that one has its own parking etiquette issues, but I'll leave that discussion to a downtown regular.
The parking situation at my Starbucks was sketchy even before the Winter of Never-Ending Snow and Ice. There was always the question: Was it cheating to come in from Wakenor Road, creating two-way traffic, and a free-for-all? I don't think so. I don't recall seeing arrows indicating a right way or a wrong way, but then again, I haven't been able to see actual pavement in months.
Now, though, with the plows piling the snow ever higher and higher, and with some parking spots totally eliminated, you've got ... bumper-car chaos. And moral dilemmas galore.
For instance, once you enter the lot, and you don't see a space right away, do you keep on moving through, exit, and come back and try again -- or do you sit and wait for the guy leaving the building to reach his car, blocking all those waiting behind you? Me? I cut my teeth in the alternate-side-of-the-street parking jungle of Manhattan. When you see someone heading to a car with his or her keys out, you follow that person, and you don't move till they've pulled out. All that honking behind you be damned. That spot is yours. If you politely move on, the impatient person who was honking gets the spot. How is that fair?
What about alongside the Starbucks building, with all those NO PARKING signs? Yeah, right. That's been a non-issue ever since the snow started. Simply not enough room without those spots. Sure, you have to be a good parallel parker. And you have to step out of your car into deep snow. But when's the last time you ever left your house without wearing boots around here?
What about the handicapped spot right by the front door? Just kidding. Wouldn't touch that. I'm not that bad.
And the Patio.com reserved spaces across the road? I'll be a law-abiding citizen my first pass through the Starbucks lot. I'll pull out on Wakenor, turn left on the Post Road, left again into the lot, and give it another try. But if I fail a second time ...
How about creating a new spot where one doesn't really exist -- like in a snowbank? Absolutely! That's why God invented Jeep Wranglers! You know those commercials that show Jeeps climbing mountains and arriving at a cliff where only red-tailed hawks have been before? Come on! Jeeps were made for tight spots in the Starbucks parking lot!
The ethical questions don't end in the lot, of course. I get to the front door about five steps ahead of a woman and her teen-aged daughter. Normally, I'd hold the door open, step aside, let the two of them enter before me, and then follow them in. But that means I'm now two places behind them in line -- and God knows what they're about to order. So then there's Plan B: Walk through the door, and hold it open behind you. You've still been moderately polite . . . but haven't lost your place.
And speaking of ethical dilemmas, the idea for this column actually came from my friend Jim from the dog park. Do I give him credit? Yeah, why not? It's not like I'm giving up a parking space.
Hank Herman is a Westport writer, and "The Home Team" appears every other Friday. You can keep up with him on his "Beagle Man" blog -- http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman/ -- and on Twitter @BeagleManHank. He may be reached at DoubleH50@gmail.com.