A Quirk

I never remember where I park.  On more occasions than I’d like to admit, I’ve walked around in circles holding out my keys trying to beep beep my way to my vehicle by zeroing in on the sound like a cat ready to pounce.  People slowly driving by seeking out a perfect spot begin following me.  They believe I’m heading straight to my car.  I have to turn to their hopeful face and shrug my shoulders.

No, I’m not walking to my car, I’m looking for my car.

They shoot past me annoyed.  I don’t mean to be a tease.  Lugging a heavy bag of books and wishing I wore different shoes, I snake up and down the university lot’s aisles of cars.  It is not my most dignified of moments.

What makes this a truly regrettable quirk is that my mother also never remembered where she parked.  She drove a tan ’86 Volvo.  It was horrendous.  It was a flesh colored box on wheels, but she loved it.  Hell, she wanted it.  In my mind, it solidified our differences.

One afternoon in the late 80s we wrapped up some time at the mall, and when she stepped outside she said (as usual), “Now.  Where did I park?”  The search began.  Normally we’d find the car pretty quickly.  This one instance, however, required serious investigating.  After considerable time pacing we decided to split up.  I zipped about looking left and right.

It suddenly dawned on me that the car might have been stolen.  With renewed effort I ran faster, not in the hopes of finding the car but with the hope of not finding the car.  Good-bye ugly Volvo!  I giggled.  I prayed.  I fantasized filing a police report and telling dad that we had to go buy something else now.  Perhaps I’d have a say in the purchase.  Maybe a pink convertible with an awesome cassette player for me to blast my Jem and The Holograms tape.

And when the possibility seemed so close I heard my mom calling my name from a few rows over.  She yelled, “It’s over here.”

We kept that Volvo for twenty years.

People say that one day you’ll do something just as your parents.  That “one day” feels like an ominous rite of passage into adulthood.  I suspect I’m not alone in thinking I’d be immune to it, but it’s inevitable.  The moment that perfect imitation escapes your mouth it’s a shock.  The world moves in slow motion.  Your actions don’t feel like your own.  Your “self” is no longer under the illusion of being something singular but rather a collection of experiences and influences.  Every time I park my car in the university lot I take deliberate note of my surroundings.  I’m just a few paces from the third divider.  Or, I’m next to the scrawny tree.  But, after a day of lecturing, chatting with students, and sorting through readings I find myself approaching the parking lot and whispering, “Now. Where did I park?”

About unsolicitedtidbits

Philosophy, books, coffee, Mexican food enthusiast. View all posts by unsolicitedtidbits

11 responses to “A Quirk

  • Dixie Minor

    I really enjoyed this! I can sooo relate! One mall in Atlanta is laid out in such a way that there was one time when looking for my lost car felt so surreal. (Underground, dark, almost empty, etc.) It is especially bad around Christmas when cars follow you hopefully! I have learned it give myself little visual and verbal cues. It may be lame, but I seem to have to! 🙂 Thanks for the smile.

  • severalfourmany

    Ha! A familiar problem. There are a couple of strategies that have worked well for me over the years:

    1) For frequently used parking lots: Park in the far side of the lot, where nobody else ever parks and park in the same spot every day. Then you don’t have to remember, it’s always there. And in the end it actually SAVES walking as you can go straight to the car rather than walking around looking for it.

    2) For infrequently used parking spots: a) Take a picture of the car that also displays it’s proximity to nearby landmarks. b) Drop a location pin on your phone’s map and save it to your contacts. I have one called “Car is Here” that I use more than I would like to admit.

    I haven’t gotten to the point where I am using one of these [https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.elibera.android.findmycar] but that’s only because I’ve started taking the train everywhere.

  • maria9saif

    that was a fun read ^_^ loved it 🙂

  • iwannabealady

    For me, my moment is always looking for my keys. My goodness I’m my mother…

  • thefemininefeministe

    This was so adorable. It reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where the gang loses their car in the parking garage and Elaine is panicked about her fish dying.

    I remember one time I thought my car had been stolen and as I began to call the police, my friend found it underneath a lightpole. I had been crying and was distraught and then was suddenly quite embarrassed to have missed my bright yellow car. In my defense, it was a large parking lot in the middle of downtown!

    • unsolicitedtidbits

      I remember that episode! George: “We’re like rats in an experiment!” Fun fact, when the car didn’t work at the end it was a mistake, but they decided to keep the goof for the ending.

      Thanks for reading. Cheers.

  • bronxboy55

    The worst situation is when it’s a parking garage with multiple levels, and each level looks exactly like all the others. I’m good for twenty or thirty minutes of hopeless wandering before the idea ever dawns on me that I’m on the wrong floor. There’s an invention in here somewhere, and someone is going to make a lot of money from it. I just don’t have any idea what it is. But when it hits the stores, I’ll probably buy one.

    Jem and the Holograms? When was this?

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