I have an etiquette question.

Dear Susie;

I live in a small town in Northern Wisconsin. Our hometown J.C. Penney’s is closing. This is a bad thing for a bunch of reasons, most of which you know.

So, the vultures are circling in for the sales. Daughter got a Penney’s gift card for her birthday. We wanted to use it quickly before everything was gone, so we went this afternoon. We parked across the street in the handicapped spot at the corner. When we came out, there was somebody pulled in tight behind me, partially in the handicapped spot, but mostly in the yellow zone, where the fire hydrant is.

I was stunned. I guess I grew up on another planet or something, where people weren’t assholes, so I don’t know how to deal with these things. We were walking slowly to my car (because that is how I walk these days) and I moved over to the edge of the sidewalk because the woman who came out of Penney’s behind me was in such a hurry, and she had her little girl by the hand, and the wind was bitter cold. She ran across the street and jumped into the car that was parked behind me. I stood there and stared at her, speechless.

Is it proper etiquette to tell a complete stranger that perhaps blocking a fire hydrant so you can go to a sale at Penney’s is remarkably self-centered, and maybe they should stop and consider that Oh, you know, fire trucks might need to get in there? Or that maybe next time somebody will call the cops on them? Is there some specific wording I should use? I didn’t want to unleash my customary I-used-to-work-in-a-factory language, mostly because she had her little girl with her. Is it effective to get the license plate number and call the police?

Thanks for your help.


A Remarkably Gobsmacked Human

10 thoughts on “I have an etiquette question.

  1. dear gobsmacked:

    in philadelphia, this is such a regular occurrence, it is almost normal. Here we have people who stop in the middle of the street, blocking traffic, to chat with friends. We have people that swerve into oncoming traffic to get ahead of slower cars. The “left turn for VA Hospital only” in my neck of the woods is routinely used as a passing lane, as our the city’s bike lanes.

    And it’s not just our drivers. Our buses routinely run red lights -and not just the “oh heck it turned just changed” kind either- and deliberately refuse to pick up passengers.

    Here in Philly, the cops don’t care. Out in Wisconsin, where the folks I’ve met seem to be pretty civil, I’ll bet calling the cops on the fuckhead is effective.


  2. You know, all people are assholes at least some of the time and at least some of the time, you have to forgive them for it. Not for them, but for you.

    Part of the problem people have is that they are so frequently lacking in plain old human empathy. This woman obviously convinced herself that her needs were more important than just about anyone else’s, and that IS a handicap – just not the kind that lets you park in the handicapped space.

    I would have tapped on the window and said, “I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t park in the fire zone. I’m handicapped and you make it difficult for me to get out. If you hadn’t happened to show up just now, I would have been blocked in, so please don’t do that again.”

    If you want to call the cops, fine. But they won’t do anything if they didn’t see it.

  3. If had enough time to waiit her out you should have let air out of two of her tires, or like they do here in Detroit, put a 45 slug through her radiator.

  4. Our culture is increasingly narcissistic. Philip Slater territory. There is nothing you can do about it except expect it and learn to deal with it.

    This means when you go to an auto parts store for a part and you are told they don’t have it, then you must get in their head and ask, “Do you have a generic for it? Can you order it for me? Do you know were I could pick up a used one?”

    The family oedipal order has broken down. Authoritarianism has been weakened and there are positive and negative consequences.

  5. I couldn’t put a slug through her radiator. It’s too freaking cold. That would be manslaughter.
    I’m thinking I’ll get cards printed up that say, “Please don’t be a jerk.” Or maybe “Santa is watching.” Maybe if these people realize that somebody IS paying attention, they’ll wake up.

  6. It is remarkably dangerous to say anything, even in a small town.

    Too high a percentage of people have anger problems and firearms on board. Go read the police blotter in your local newspaper. This is how it starts.

    You are in greater danger, in fact, by trying to insist on someone else’s good behavior –while being female. You know this. You have dealt with male entitlement.

    But if you must, you might point out, to the other driver, that his parking made it difficult for a handicapped person. But leave it at that. Scolding causes arguments.

    If I were you, I’d leave the behavior-changing warning to a cop, who has the full authority of the law and courts to stand behind.

  7. What G Newman said. My blood turned cold at the very thought of someone (female or male) confronting this woman. This is where road rage starts …. Letting a police officer know isn’t a bad idea. But, it’s mostly useless. The cop probably couldn’t talk to her until she was about to move the car anyway. It seems that there are an increasing number of people who, knowing they CAN get away with pretty much anything — DO pretty much anything. … Not long ago one of these people (a family member sitting in my living room) told me that she could make just about anyone give her anything she wants. I knew this of course (because of the tremendous energy it takes to resist her will) but, it was astonishing to hear her brag about it.

  8. What Susie said.

    But wouldn’t it be fun to carve a big piece of foam in the shape of “the boot”, paint it bright orange, and use double-stick foam tape to attach to an a-hole’s wheel?

    With any luck, said a-hole would then be calling the cops on themselves. Karma! Just make sure to wear gloves.

  9. It’s always interesting to see which posts generate the most responses.
    It’s usually the slice-of-life ones, rather than the political policy ones.

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