Roadside Etiquette: Hugs, not Horns
I woke up with a nasty cold the other day, and had a hard time getting
out of bed and to the office. I was running late, but needed to stop at
the nearby syndicated coffee stand for a designer-branded energy boost.
In order to pull into the mini-mall driveway, I had to swerve around a car blocking the 'in' side of the opening, to enter against exiting traffic.
I scanned the parking lot to discover at least a half-dozen empty spots. I confess: I was already grumpy, and this made me grumpier. Oodles of open spots, and this guy in his fancy Mercedes was blocking the driveway. (Mind you: This is the polite translation of what was actually in my head.)
My parking lot policewoman persona broke loose as I passed his car, and
I stopped at his window and twiddled my fingers in the universal "roll
down your window" sign. He glanced up from punching his PDA and gave me
the universal "Uh oh, there's a crazy woman outside my window" look. (I
hate to admit that I've seen it before. Several times.) Through the
glass, he mouthed the word "what?" to me. Smart man.
So, I told him what was on my mind. I tried to do it politely: "Dude, there are at least six open spots in this lot. This is a very bad place for you to be stopped." And then I turned and walked to get my liquid breakfast.
Before I could get more than just a few steps away, he called to me through his window: "Does somebody need a hug?" Okay, that was confusing. One moment, I'm all mad and bossy, and in the next moment, my mood softened, and all I could say was "Uhm, yeah. I guess I kinda do..."
That's some way to diffuse an impending case of roadside rage. How can anybody remain angry after being offered a hug?
The guy stepped out of his car and opened his arms to me, as I walked back to accept his kind embrace; a nice warm hug from a total stranger. I looked up and said, "This is a very bad place for you to be stopped. You could get hit." (I know this because I nearly drove into him myself.) Then he told me "I'm stopped here because I just got hit. I didn't even see the other parking spots."
And with that, I apologized and continued on my way to get my warm cup of Joe.
Hugs, not horns. I totally recommend it.
By Brandy Schaffels
Contributing Editor and occasional parking lot policewoman.
Creative commons photos via flickr, courtesy and