Death by Parking Lot

I live in terror. The festive season is upon us and you all know what that means – taking your life in your hands and going to the mall. Survival of the fleetest has become the evolutionary order; the luckiest, most daring, most determined wins the ultimate prize – a rectangular patch of asphalt.

Everywhere the innocent are blitzed with the siren songs of sales, deals and the path to undying love. But like all heroes of myth, legend and fairy tale, real love demands an odyssey through hideous dangers to win the prize and return in triumph to adoration, riches, and acclaim. Brandishing the golden fleece (strike the fleece – seriously, we’re talking a luxury store’s shopping bag here), the conqueror holds aloft the spoils. And we all fall back in gasping admiration. We know the dangers that were faced.

It’s a war zone out there – the aspirants to the golden mantle of the Best-Deal-Ever-Four-Hours-Only! throng to the mall, shopping lists clutched in desperate hands. The first trial looms before them, the finding of a parking spot. Acres of cars growl up and down aisles, searching, ever searching for the rare hero who has finished the quest and is ready to back out.

There! One tiny spot squeezed between a couple of cocky pick-ups. An SUV goes grill to grill with a Mini-Cooper. The SUV is bigger, stronger, clearly the favorite. But the plucky Mini-Cooper darts around and slides into the space. The SUV howls its rage and the horn blasts. The champions dash from the Mini-Cooper and disappear into the crowds before battle can be enjoined.

The lot returns to gridlock.

Desperate, a passenger in a white Toyota heaves herself from the car and stands, hands waving as though daring a bull, in the one spot that has opened up in twenty miles. A Mercedes nudges closer. Privilege is all. The gold on the hood flashes and the vehicle crowds the spot-saver – one grey-haired Nana determined that her grandchildren are going to get the best. The Mercedes screams obscenities out the window. Nana folds her arms and glares. She’s not moving. The car creeps closer still, until the grill is scant inches from the hero’s ample stomach. Not for nothing did she fight her way through life’s injustices. She will not move. The Mercedes leans on the horn. A crowd begins to gather; watchers throw out bets as to whether there will be triumph or blood.

Who knows what might have been the outcome? A security team buzzes up in a golf cart and the combatants are separated. The crowd disperses, children and parents happily meandering down the center of the road, oblivious to the metal beasts snarling around them. Another vehicle blasts out of its parking spot, indifferent to the three cars and twelve pedestrians in its way.

And so it goes. Ritual battle is enjoined. Sales are grabbed. Bags are waved in the wind and texts are sped into the ether as the melee on asphalt goes on.

Happy Holidays!


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