After I cruised the grocery-store parking lot for 10 minutes, a spot finally opened up. I had pulled halfway in when I saw the sign that read, "Reserved for parents with small children." That's so thoughtful. That's so sweet. A teenager who's had three babies with three different dads can get a better parking spot than me. It warms the heart.
Who am I compared to a parent with small children? I'm just the person who pays the taxes that built the parking lot I can't park in. I deserve no special consideration whatsoever. I'm just a worthless, inconsequential middle-aged man with a heart condition. But there is no "Reserved for taxpayers" parking spot.
I wonder if it's too late for me to have small children? That's silly. Should I have small children just to get a better parking spot? And what do you do with children when they grow up? Then they're practically worthless for parking purposes. Maybe I should join a big-brother program and mentor just on the days I need groceries.
Sure, if you're young enough and healthy enough to bear children, you are probably sprier than I am, but I'm sure the walk from the far end of the parking lot to the front of the store will do me good. So you're probably doing me a favor by making me walk.
It's odd that I never see that "Reserved for parents with small children" sign outside a maternity hospital or an OB/GYN's office. I never see it outside a school or a park. Just places that sell groceries. What do they know that I don't?
I know when I go grocery shopping, it's always a pleasure to see parents with small children. The kids are so cute, so well-behaved. Running, yelling, screaming and skating into displays on their Heelys, fondling all the produce after they've just wiped their noses with their hands — it's just a joy to behold. It just makes you feel glad to be alive.
Maybe stores should reach out to other customers the way they've reached out to parents with small, hyperactive children.
Maybe they should have a spot that says, "Reserved for people who are always in a rush. If this spot isn't close enough, use a handicapped spot. Better yet, leave your car running by the front door of the store and dash in because you'll only be a moment. It's OK with us if you jump to the head of the checkout line in the store, too, you being in such a big rush and all."
How about "Reserved for newlyweds"? Or "Reserved if today's your birthday"? "Reserved for cars with six or more political bumper stickers?"
I threw caution to the wind and parked in the parents-with-small-children spot. Let the supermarket-parking-lot police ticket me. Maybe I'll get away with it this time. Is the penalty more than a ticket? What if we're talking jail time? Will I be read my rights? Do people without small children even have rights? Please, sir, send me to a country-club prison, my golf game needs work.
Jim Mullen is the author of "It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life" and "Baby's First Tattoo." You can reach him at email@example.com