By Shelly Volner

We have all been there.  Driving around, around and around again in a busy shopping center parking lot in search of the most precious commodity…a 9 x 11 foot piece of real estate on which to park.

It’s a dance that all of us know too well. We drive aisle by aisle and watch spot after spot get swiped by some lucky duck as we mumble under our breath, “if I had just come down this aisle a moment sooner I could have had that one!”

After a few rounds of this monotonous routine you begin to deliberate if this endless hunt is worth your time and energy. Your inner dialogue begins, “maybe I won’t get groceries today, what’s one more night of take out? Plus, our fridge stays tidier that way.”

But just as you start looking for the closest exit, you see it! It’s the light at the end of the tunnel…a beacon of hope…it’s the white reverse lights on a minivan! If it weren’t for your sturdy seat belt you would be levitating from the excitement of it all.

The vehicular tango moves into its second act…securing pole position for the spot. You immediately switch on your blinker and then gently creep up to a safe distance from the reversing auto.  Your fingers quietly tap on the steering wheel and a polite grin stays plastered on your face in the chance that you and the minivan driver should make eye contact. Always smart to show appreciation!

Mentally, you begin your shopping trip because you know within moments you will be in the parking lot promise land. But then, as the minivan pulls out and travels on its way, out of NOWHERE appears a sporty coupe that swoops in on your paved  bounty with nothing more than a quick spin of the steering wheel and a flip of the hair.

The driver then hops out of the car without even a look of guilt on their smug mug and purposefully doesn’t look back at you to avoid the hand signal that you will have ready and waiting if they do.

Steam begins to emit from your ears, unflattering words begin to bounce off the interior walls of your SUV and to top it off, a voice from the backseat bellows, “hey mom, how come you let that car take our spot?!”

At that very moment the parking lot scene from the movie Fried Green Tomatoes flashes to the forefront of your mind. You contemplate re-enacting it but then remember it was a film and if you actually tried it it would result in jail time and that would be EVEN MORE annoying that this nightmare you were currently enduring.

The next thing to run through your head is a simple question.  Where have people’s manners gone? And what happened to “do unto others?”

Being someone that is extremely mindful of etiquette and right and wrong, I feel overwhelmed by the careless and inconsiderate acts that I witness in public each day.

It’s as though we are all in just too much of hurry to care about how we treat others. And besides a rare urgent trip to the hospital to visit a loved one or drop off someone that is expecting, why are we continually rushed?

We don’t give ourselves enough time to get places so the road becomes our slalom course and public parking spaces become entitlements.

In a parking lot, as much as it can be a laborious chore to circle the stalls until something opens up, it is what it is and just like the bank or line at the deli, first come first serve.

Some days you are the fortunate one with a choir full of parking angels in tow that help that front row spot appear and some days you wished you stayed home, saved the gas and just ordered everything online.

We need to remember that we are all human beings and because of that, it is our duty to be civil and fair to our fellow man.

But, when that should fail and hope is lost…watch Fried Green Tomatoes, it will make you feel better, I promise.