Parking Etiquette

I have never had a dedicated parking spot, in California or elsewhere, so you can imagine the adjustment to an entire warehouse in downtown San Francisco in which to park any day or night.  Instead of searching for a space, channeling The Secret, I simply press the door opener and pull into a bona fide garage.  I savor this luxury as I watch our neighbors shuffle their cars, a dance for the meter maid that often ends with fists clutching tickets shaking in the wind. 

But yesterday my Schadenfreude backfired: after giving an out-of-town guest a tour of the shop, we discovered our driveway entirely blocked by a C230 Kompressor.  I couldn’t believe it and tried to pull our car out anyway.  When geometery prevailed I felt like a person tailgated on the highway, tempted by the opposite pedal, fantasizing about the utter satisfaction of stomping the carpet.  I managed to control myself. 

The tools of a business owner develop half in advance and half in response.  This time I got to learn the city protocol for getting cars towed from blocked driveways.  The phone number is 415-553-1200 and just by calling you have the apparent authority to have a car cited, or cited and towed.  You do not need to have a sign posted that says “No Parking” or a red curb or similar warning.  I’m not sure who makes the judgement call as to whether a vehicle is truly in violation; I imagine a system rife with persnickety homeowners.  And yet I suddenly relate to them.

In this case the owner was tracked down in a condo down the street. I’m so sorry! Blah blah blah. Who parks across a driveway, let alone one with the door open?  People who know the people inside.  Or at least I thought. 

A full day later I concede that no vehicle belongs more in the city than another.  But for the sake of doing business, and therefore pulling cars in and out of the garage, there must be parking etiquette.  Before I didn’t want a “No Parking” sign; we just repainted the roll door and, besides, they are so unfriendly. The second complication is that our curb is not very well defined.  This will be fixed when the city buries the power lines on our side of the street, but it may be several years. 

Now, in the meantime, we need a sign.  I will apply for a 15 minute curb zone.  For the overstepping bumper, I need to compose a note (in advance).  And for the totally oblivious, the towing number is now in my cell phone.