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Huge cars, tiny parking spots -- what's a motorist to do?

November 17, 2003|Jim Shea | Hartford Courant

Parking spaces are getting smaller.

SUVs and behinds are getting bigger.

Something has to give.

We are a population that needs to be able to swing the car door open all the way to get in and out without causing a scene.

Unfortunately, today's parking lots pack cars so closely together that this is rarely possible.

As a result, the only way many people can exit their auto is by engaging in a kind of sideways-shimmy-jiggle two-step.

In most cases, this dance with indignity simply leaves drivers disheveled.

In extreme cases, it can put people on the business end of a "jaws of life."

Yeah, your heart really does go out when you see someone floundering between cars. Unless, of course, you happen to own one of the cars, in which case you just want the victim to be euthanized before he can do any more damage to your paint job. Ask yourself this: When was the last time you opened your car door at the mall and didn't whack the vehicle next to you?

Why is that?

My theory is that the auto body repair industry has somehow become in charge of parking lot design.

Who else but the ding-and-dent folks benefit from a system where drivers of varying levels of incompetence, brandishing vehicles of unequal size, are required to squeeze between the same set of narrow yellow lines?

All it takes is for just one person in a parking row to cross the lines to throw an entire lot into chaos.

Ever return to your vehicle to find the only way to get in is via the hatchback? The sun roof?

Although the chances of making parking spaces larger are small, there are still a few things that can be done to bring some order to the anarchy.

* Park cars by size: If nothing else, this will cut into the problem of footprints on the roofs of Mini Coopers.

* Park cars by book value: Luxury cars are not really compatible with vehicles that have nothing left to lose.

* Park cars by color: It will make door dings and fender scrapes less noticeable.

* Park cars by personality disorder: This way you can group together all the $%& who position their cars diagonally across two parking spots.

Jim Shea is a columnist for the Hartford Courant, a Tribune company.

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