Just Park the Car

As much as possible, I try to avoid going anywhere that has a crowded parking lot.  If I can, I’ll go to popular destinations sometime between Monday and Friday instead of during the weekend when they’re more crowded.  But sometimes it’s inevitable that I will have to park my car in a nearly-at-capacity parking lot.

Lakewood Center, Lakewood CAWhen this happens, my strategy is simple.  Instead of driving around searching for a “good” parking space, I just drive away from my destination’s main entrance, towards the farthest reaches of the parking lot, until I find an empty space.  If this means parking as far as possible from the entrance, that’s fine.

Here’s why:

My “just park the car” method probably saves time.  Instead of driving and driving, repeatedly circling the full spaces near the entrance, I drive directly to an open space, park, and start walking towards the entrance.  Quite often, as I’m walking in the front doors, I see a a driver who was looking for a space when I first drove into the lot still cruising past the parking lot’s “good” (but full) spaces.  Meanwhile, I’m inside starting to accomplish my trip’s purpose.

Even if it doesn’t save time, it saves gasoline, oil, and transmission fluid and avoids unnecessary wear on the brakes, transmission, and everything else on the car that wears out with use.  The less you use your car, the longer it will last.  It’s only going to go maybe 150,000 miles — why use them up driving around in parking lots?  “Just park the car” also reduces the amount of air pollution I’m making by driving a car.

My method reduces the chance of an accident.  Driving in a parking lot is distracted driving.  Looking for an empty space, watching people that might be walking towards their cars, scanning for brake lights and reverse lights, all while driving around among other people doing the same thing.  Why take the unnecessary risk?

My method is stress free.  When a large number of drivers are looking for a small number of parking spaces, it inevitably becomes a competition.  Psychology takes hold.  Someone is going to win, others are going to lose.  That’s stressful.  I don’t need to raise my blood pressure over getting a parking space.  I don’t engage in the competition and I avoid the stress.

Who doesn’t need exercise?  You park a little farther away and you have to walk a bit.  So what?  I see that as a benefit.  Some people pay to use a gym.  I get this exercise for free.  Sometimes it’s a nice day, but even if the weather isn’t ideal, I enjoy the walk.

For many of the same reasons, I never use a drive-thru on the occasions I buy fast food.  To my way of thinking: If you can’t haul your butt from the car to the inside of the restaurant, you don’t deserve fast food.


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