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Too much ado about a parking spot at new store

Jessica Lovell

It was not by choice, but rather on assignment, that I found myself at Guelph’s brand new Costco on its opening day on Friday.
It’s not that I wasn’t curious about the store, but being a bit shy of crowds, I probably would have stayed away – at least for the first couple of months to allow time for the excitement to die down.
But clearly, there are many, many Guelphites who don’t think like me.
In spite of the fact that there were no special giveaways or grand opening deals advertised, hordes of people were there.
I don’t like to call these people crazy – many were extremely courteous and seemed entirely reasonable – but to some, I’d like to say, “What were you thinking?”
Although inside the big-box store was teeming with people, its size made it seem like it wasn’t all that crowded. But outside in the parking lot, that was where the craziness was going down.
I arrived around 10 a.m. – early, but after the store had already been open for a couple of hours – and there were no parking spaces. None.
Police were directing traffic on Elmira Road, and Costco employees were directing traffic within the lot, in an effort to maintain safety and order. But finding a parking spot was a challenge.
My initial strategy was to drive as far from the store entrance as possible. That’s when I saw that drivers were making their own parallel parking spaces around the periphery of the lot.
I eventually spotted a woman unloading her cart, and, after a pleasant exchange with her, I waited patiently while she vacated the spot and moved in.
But when I left the parking lot, things didn’t go so smoothly.
I knew as I walked to my car that a number of people would probably like to have my space, in spite of the fact that it was in the last row of the parking lot. I had no idea that people would be so rude about it.
As I got in my car to go, a woman in a beige van spotted me and flipped on her signal to take the spot. At nearly the same time, a red van approaching from the opposite direction flipped on its signal.
Through my rolled-down windows, I heard the irritated screams from the woman in the first van.
“That’s my spot! That’s my spot!,” she shouted at the other driver.
When the red van showed no signs of backing off, the angry woman began to hurl obscenities.
“That’s my F-ing spot, you F-ing w@#%*.”
I was shocked.
As I drove away, the red van slid into the space and I cringed, hoping a fist fight wouldn’t break out.
Normally, in such a battle, I would side with the woman in the beige van. After all, she was there first and saw the spot first. The red van’s driver behaved in an anti-social fashion and should be ashamed.
But that woman in the beige van should also be ashamed at the way she conducted herself. So much rage. Over a parking spot.
And at the grand opening of a new and popular retail store, what did she expect? Stress-free parking and dozens of empty spaces to choose from?
For the most part, the people I encountered seemed to have prepared themselves for the crowds. They were relaxed and took the chaos in stride as part of the opening day experience.
Those who weren’t prepared to do the same – people like the woman with the bad case of parking-lot rage – should have stayed home.
For me, no discount on granola bars or toilet paper is worth being treated that way by a fellow shopper, so I think I’ll have to give Costco a pass. At least until the excitement dies down.   jlovell@guelphtribune.ca

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