Etiquette Questions, Answered: Social Situations
What’s the Most Gracious Way to Nab A Parking Spot?
Q. Recently my son and I were trying to find a place to park at the mall. After he circled the lot for some time, I suggested
he try this trick: Ask someone heading to her car if we could follow her and take her spot. We requested this of a young woman,
who was quick to agree.
But when we got near her space, another driver was already situated to pull in. Upon seeing our car, this person rolled down her window and shouted, "I am waiting for this spot!" I told her we were also waiting for it. Ultimately we got the space, but my son later told me that he thought we were wrong. I pride myself on being polite, so I would like to know if I violated parking etiquette.
A. I love that you approach a conundrum like this in the spirit of open curiosity. Even more delightful is that you pride yourself on being polite. Since you do, though, you might as well err on the side of courtesy and relinquish the spot to a driver who has just as much right to it as you do.
Or perhaps even more than you do. The most important rule of driving is safety first. And trailing a pedestrian through rows of parked cars, while effective for getting a spot, is perhaps not the most cautious way to drive.
My advice in this situation: Defer to the other driver. You’ll find a spot eventually—and you’ll take more pleasure in your own decency than in that minute or two saved at the lot.
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Want to Ask Your Own Etiquette Question?
Submit your social conundrums to Catherine at realsimple.com/modernmanners. Selected letters will be featured on the website each month.
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