Parking Protocol - Who Gets The Spot - The One Waiting or the One Following a Shopper?

parking protocol
Bad Drawing By Bernie

A few days ago my wife went shopping at the Newport Mall in Jersey City. She pulled into an aisle where no other drivers were sitting and waited for someone to move their car out. After a short while a man came along followed closely by a black couple in an SUV (no racism implied, just trying to remain accurate).

The walker pulled out of spot number 4 (see image above) in such a way that it blocked my wife allowing the SUV to pull into the space. When my wife complained that she was there first, they gave the excuse that they were following the guy when he came out of the mall.

Sadly our schools do not teach parking protocol (or anything else to do with good manners for that matter) so the black couple did not know the rules.

Here they are:

  • You can only follow a person and take his parking spot if no one else is waiting in the aisle. The only exception is if that person is a close friend or relative of yours who is only leaving so that you can take his spot. The right thing in that case is to go to the person waiting and explain, "My uncle (or father or friend) was holding this spot for me." If the person who was waiting does not assent to this arrangement then the right thing to do is to let the spot go.

    Here's why the follower should not get preference over the person waiting in the aisle: there may be 4 or 5 parking aisles. Does that mean one can bogart any parking spot in a lot just by being a follower? If this procedure were to be allowed then there would be chaos. No one would bother to wait in an aisle if they could lose a spot to someone lurking at the Mall Exit.

  • In addition, front bumper rules. If someone is pulling out of a space and is between a front bumper and a rear bumper, then the front bumper gets the spot, no backing up to get the spot unless no one is behind you.
  • Also, being pointed in the correct traffic direction rules. In the SUV case with my wife above, they came down the wrong way in order to stay close to the guy and jump the claim.
  • It is a good idea to put one's blinker on to show that you are waiting for the space.
  • If the parking lot is very, very long, the person waiting only has claim to about 4 or 5 cars in front of him not to the 100 cars in the entire aisle.

As a side piece of advice, never compliment a stranger on their parking: "Hey buddy, great parking job there." No matter how you say it, it will come out insultingly wrong.

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