My mother, rest her soul, drove her 1997 Buick until almost 90...and sometimes faster. She was in great health at age 87, but it irked her that many of her friends had handicap license plates that allowed them to park closer to the grocery store. She'd get out of her car and drag her foot along the ground to appear disabled. The A&P manager overlooked it. He wasn't as lenient on the shoplifting charges, though.
In memory of Mom, I'm going to admit to something that will probably generate a lot of hate mail filling my inbox. Two or three times at the supermarket over the last 10 years-when I've been in a huge rush-I parked in the space that said:
PARKING FOR MOTHERS WITH TODDLERS
I don't have a toddler, but I did have one 25 years ago. They didn't have those reserved parking spaces back then, and I'm kinda feeling cheated (like my mother did). By the way, the sign is sexist: men can obviously have toddlers, although they probably left them home with Mom. Which brings me to the next sign:
PARKING FOR EXPECTANT MOMS
Just once I pulled into this space for three minutes while I grabbed a dozen eggs. Big mistake. Someone recognized me from TV and pointed out to me that I was not pregnant. I don't plan on ever doing this again. But just in case of a real emergency, so I don't get busted, I do carry a down pillow in the back seat.
And this one:
PARKING FOR ONLINE CUSTOMERS ONLY
What's the deal here? These folks were too lazy to shop at the actual store, and then they were too impatient to have it delivered. Now they want their own parking space? I don't think so. Now, to be fair, if you are pregnant and also dragging along two toddlers to pick up a car seat you ordered over the internet, you should be allowed to park right inside the store.
Here's one that annoys me:
PARKING FOR TAKE-OUT CUSTOMERS ONLY
Just because you ordered take-out doesn't mean that you should get a space right in front of the restaurant. You were too tired to cook at home and you're also too cheap to tip the waitress, so why do you think you should have a special place to park? If you want to feed your face quickly, there's a McDonald's drive-thru right across the street from that Applebee's.
Now, if it were up to me, I'd have the following signs created:
RESERVED PARKING FOR MEN WHO NEED BEER
Some guys just want beer. They should have their own space and a checkout lane that says: 44 BEERS OR LESS.
RESERVED PARKING FOR MEN WHO FORGOT THE ONE THING THEY CAME IN FOR
For the guy who needed a box of nails and came home with a Weber Grill and 200 pounds of mulch...but no nails.
RESERVED PARKING FOR FATHERS WHO C0ME BACK FOR THEIR CHILDREN
Research shows that many of these fathers go home without the kids only to realize the children are missing when there are empty seats at dinner.
Finally, a sign that says: DICK WOLFSIE, ONLY. I know this makes me sound self-centered and selfish. But here's how I am different from online purchasers, take-out customers and pregnant mothers with toddlers: if you get to the parking lot and I'm not using my space, it's all yours.
Dick Wolfsie has written 12 books and has been a television personality for 30 years. His humor column appears weekly in The Times.