It was a very wet day in Sligo and the roads were heavily congested. I couldn’t locate a parking spot anywhere and decided to head to the shopping centre instead. I circled the indoor car park for about ten minutes. All floors were full. I just wanted a space for five minutes so that I could post a letter. I decided to try once more before surrendering to the lottery of finding a parking space on the street.
Slowly, I crawled around, watching every move. Some people have a very annoying habit of approaching their car with bags but, instead of getting in their car, they open the boot, throw their bags in and walk straight back to the shops. Other people tantalise you by hanging around their car and chatting on their mobiles as if there was no tomorrow. Then there are evil people who open their doors and sit comfortably into their cars but don’t switch on the ignition. It’s as if they have parked in that spot just to sit there for the rest of their lives.
As I turned a corner on the second floor, I spotted a heavenly sent gap – the last parking space available. Patience is a virtue. Yes. But it was at a sharp corner and would involve serious manoeuvring to get the angle right, a major challenge even with a parking-assist bumper. I twisted and turned, withdrew and entered, stopped and started in an exercise that lasted about five minutes. I felt great satisfaction when I straightened up into the space. Parking fit for a prince.
But as I took out the key, it clicked with me that the car was inches from the wall on my side but also merely inches from its nearest neighbour on the other. Perfect parking but I couldn’t leave the vehicle. If I had had a sunroof, there might have been possibilities. Just as I was making this discovery, I glanced over at the car parked directly across from me. Its driver had a bold grin on his face. It was as if he had realised my dilemma and was enjoying my plight, or was maybe watching for my next move. When we find ourselves in such ridiculous situations, the one thing we don’t want is an audience.
Pride gripped me. Would I let him delight in my stupidity? Was there any other option? I decided to pretend that I was parking for a snooze and slowly lowered my seat backwards. So there. Maybe I parked knowing fully that I had no intention of getting out at all. Maybe I was just waiting on someone else. There would be no satisfaction for the glaring eyes of Mister Nosey. I snuggled into the seat and waited for him to make his exit. I waited. And waited. Stalemate. Was he sitting me out? Was he calling my bluff?
I opened one eye and spied on my subject with intensity. He was still wearing the bold grin but as I studied his face more carefully I noticed that both his eyes were closed. My enemy was simply someone having a nap in his car. Taking a genuine snooze, unlike me. Mister Nosey was not Mister Nosey at all. He hadn’t even witnessed my stupidity. We all have the capacity to annoy ourselves needlessly about things that don’t matter. Even psychologists.
(C) Exerpt taken from the book Your Precious Life-How to Live it Well by Shane Martin and published by Orpen Press