the arrogant sports car driver, the wild turkeys, and other stories of workplace parking drama — Ask a Manager

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Last week we talked about workplace parking wars. Here are 10 fantastic stories from that discussion.

1. The parking space war

I used to work in the dorm office at a local private college. We had an enormous parking lot that encircled the entire complex. There were enough spaces for every resident and employee times four. It was ridiculously large and everyone could pretty much park within a 30-second walk to the doors. Despite that, the first rows of parking spaces were hotly contested. Employees did not like students parking in the first rows. People would threaten to call tow trucks to remove someone else’s vehicle just to have a coveted space. Someone made fake parking tickets using the official logos and passed them out.

My boss finally got fed up with this and designated the first row at the offices entrance to be employee-only parking and put up signs and labeled spaces. This … did not make things better. Apparently the location of the space within the row was now a symbol of power. Getting space 1C was better than space 1K and there were popularity contests held for the “right” to park in specific spots. Boss reiterated that the spaces didn’t matter and it was first come, first serve. Morning shift began lording their spaces over afternoon shift. Afternoon shift would put up barriers when they left in the evening to prevent morning shift from parking there.

It all came to a head one morning after I got into the office earlier than usual. While the boss and I were having our morning meeting, we looked out his office window and witnessed a morning shift employee direct four of our student residents to pick up my 1995 Geo Metro out of space 1A and carry it across the parking lot.

After that, boss assigned spaces alphabetically by last name, with a fine for violating it. My last name just happened to be at the top of the alphabet so I was assigned 1A for the duration of my employment, much to the annoyance of the parking wars participants. Several employees did attempt to bribe me into giving up my space but were unsuccessful. I didn’t really care where I parked because the lot was so huge but after all the nonsense I had to put up with from them as office admin, I was keeping my space out of spite.

2. The spite

My boss, who was awful, would spitefully deactivate people’s parking passes when she got mad at them. She was always mad at someone. I’d quietly turn the pass back on, and my boss never noticed. She was too busy with the next target of her ire.

3. The Precious

We had a surgeon who had a nice yellow Italian sports car. Ferrari or Lamborghini. Like many hospitals, parking spots were hard to come by, especially any in the garage or covered. He would put his yellow baby into last two spots by a support wall. He parking over the lines taking up both spots.

Now, I have a unique skill set. I can park. Like teleport my car into any spot. Sling it into a parallel spot, front facing, back facing, no matter. Not the most useful skill professionally, but my strange version of “I will look for you, I find you. And I will outPark you.”

I, being newly out of residency, drove a 1971 VW beetle. Stick shift and all, classic and reliable car. I magicked my bug into the spot between the post and his car (race car parked because that’s what you do with those Italian horses). He had to get in from the passenger side and scoot over the gear shift – not easy to do when you have low lying bucket seats. This repeated the next day.

I got overhead paged. It was a fun slow walk to move my car. The double parking stopped for a while. Then he did it again. I timed my parking to him coming off shift to the garage. I Tokyo Drifted my old beetle right next his Precious (on the passenger side since those spots were open). Sooooo close to the Precious. I thought he would have an aneurysm. He never took up two spots again.

We actually became good friends. An honorable battle and yes, I still have Herbie the Beetle.

4. The secret war

I apparently started a secret parking war with a coworker by parking in “his” spot unknowingly. He just kept coming earlier and earlier to beat me there to claim his spot. I didn’t care (or even notice), I was just parking in the first available spot when I entered the lot. Eventually he announced to me that he couldn’t keep coming in that early, so I had “won” the spot fair and square. I was … very confused lol.

5. The sinister saying

Not really a parking lot “war,” per se, but it’s parking lot related. You know how companies will talk about the importance of cross-training and keeping everybody in the loop in terms of what if you win the lottery or if you get really sick, etc.?

My first job out of college used the creepily specific framing of “just in case you get run over in the parking lot by someone backing out of their parking space.” And I heard that same framing from several different people over the course of my time there.

I never got the courage to ask why they used that very precise example, but you better believe I paid a lot of attention in the parking lots.

6. The consequence

Out of the professional world and into the summer camp world: We had an employee (an actual adult who didn’t have naivete as an excuse) who would drive around, parking his car in the way of maintenance vehicles and heavy equipment while he ran into a building for “just a second.” On more than one occasion, the maintenance team just towed his car out of their way. When he finally gave the edict “nobody is allowed to move my car,” the next time he disrupted maintenance operations he came out to find his car on blocks with all four tires missing and a map to where they had been taken.

7. The parking space theft

The parking lot at my old job was built for 70 cars but our building only had like 30 people, so it’s not like we were in danger of running out of space. A coworker once confronted me with way more aggression than I expected because I had “stolen her spot” — the furthest spot to the left from the building door in the front row of the lot. I made apologetic noises while she ranted about liking the walk. It apparently didn’t occur to her that if she enjoyed the walk, there was an equidistant spot at the other end of the row that she could take.

8. The chutzpah

Back in days of yore when I was young, I was given a disability parking permit for my work car park because I have Crohn’s, and that can cause mobility problems. There were three allocated disability spaces near the door, and only people with permits were allowed to park in them. In theory.

In practice, if you had a disability permit and didn’t get there early, you wouldn’t get a space, because some entitled person who was late and didn’t want to park at the back of the (admittedly large) car park and walk would always park there. The worst offender was a guy in my department who thought he was god’s gift to the world and was easily the most entitled person I’ve ever met. If someone was going to steal my space, it was him.

Now, there was a period where I was arriving a little later than I normally would due to roadworks, and Every. Single. Day. I would get in and this guy was parked in my space. Every day, I would inform facilities that someone without a permit was parked in the permit parking. They did nothing about it, so one day when it was raining, I was running late and was in pain from the beginnings of a flare up, I drove in to see That Guy in my spot … and also two other Not Disabled cars in the other two spots.

I saw red. I parked my car across all three spaces in front of the other cars, and at the time I was rocking an estate car so it was almost big enough to cover all three. As I was getting out of my car, another disabled permit parker pulled up, saw what I had done, and parked next to me. We headed into the building together, not letting on what we had done, and went about our days.

Lunchtime comes, and because it’s raining, people understandably want to use their cars to go get lunch instead of walking. That Guy leaves the office, and returns a minute later. “You’ve blocked me in,” he said. I put my pencil down and turn to face him. “Yes,” I said,
I have, but you’re in my space.” I picked my pencil back up and went back to my diagram.

That Guy stomps off, and goes to facilities. I didn’t witness the actual exchange, but I was told by a colleague that That Guy lost his mind at facilities for not doing anything about our “illegal parking” and the facilities guy informed him that he was the illegally parked one. This guy was new and the jobsworth we all needed, and he really started to enforce the parking rules.

Yes, it was petty. But it’s still one of my best memories from that job.

9. The drama

At one job I held for five years in a medium-sized city, parking was at two lots: one that was adjacent to the building and one that was about two blocks away. Assigned spaces in the adjacent lot were divided up by department and then doled out by the department head. When I started, I parked in the “far-away lot” but got bumped up to the “good lot” when someone left. Great! Until my manager decided to redo the system for assigning the parking spaces, so I got bumped from a primo spot to one in the corner. Which was fine until the snow started and it was covered for months out of the year by the plowed piles of snow. It’s been 10 years and I’m still mad about this!

When people were on vacation, there were literal bidding wars for who would be able to use their spot when they were gone. When someone would park in a spot that wasn’t theirs, the rightful owner of that spot would PARK BEHIND THEM and trap them in as punishment. And I haven’t even gotten into the building-wide emails (complete with photos) demanding that people get out of their spots.

As it turns out, the reshuffle of spots was just to keep us all distracted enough about that to not notice that the company was falling down around our ears. Suffice it to say that a few years later it got a lot easier to get a parking spot, if you get my meaning.

10. The wild turkeys

A different sort of parking lot wars, but wars all the same. Come summer, our parking lot turns into the land of the wild turkeys. There is one rafter of turkeys that calls our parking lot and surrounding area home, and they are aggressive! Just try to get past them to get to your car – they dare you! It’s like they are the bouncers of the parking lot. My company even has put up signs warning about the turkeys. The turkeys can chase people away from their cars or the building, and one time someone was even chased on their motorcycle. Most of the time, respectful distances are kept, and turkey and human go about their days. But every so often the two cross paths and chaos ensues.

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