VIEW FROM THE PORCH - Parking crunch inspires rant


‘Sorry I'm late." John looked like he was going to blow a gasket. He harrumphed around my office, shaking his fist in the air, rolling his eyes.

"Had to drive around the #$*&#% block three #$*&#% times before I found a #$*&#% parking space! They gotta do something about the #$*&#% parking in this town. It's out of control."

"How do you feel about the octopus?" I asked, trying to change the subject.

"The octopus!" he wailed. "Forget the #$*&#% octopus. Who cares about the #$*&#% octopus? I don't care about the #$*&#% octopus. I want this #$*&#% parking thing fixed."

I hear this a lot. You've probably heard it, too. It's the Walla-Walla-Downtown-Parking-Problem-Rant. The word #$*&#% figures prominently.

From my office window, I have an unobstructed view of the octopus slithering over his castle above Main Street. Most days, I sit pretending to work, but watching the octopus. When I'm not watching the octopus, I entertain myself watching folks park and de-park their vehicles along the street.

I know we teach parallel parking in our driving schools. I think we need to add angled parking to the curriculum. Whenever I think I've witnessed "the worst Main Street parking job ever," somebody manages to top it.

I love watching the idiots - sorry, but there's no better word for them - who pull into angled parking spaces from the far lane, into oncoming traffic, only to find they've misjudged their turning radii and end up with their vehicles whoppy-jawed in the middle of the street. These poor, misguided souls - idiots - snarl traffic for several blocks in both directions while making the necessary parking corrections.

Most entertaining of all are the brave folks who back out of parking spaces into traffic without looking - trusting the courtesy of oncoming drivers. Sometimes that doesn't work out too well.

I'm looking out my window right now. It's past noon. I'm waiting for Annie. She's coming into town for lunch. She's late. I don't know what's holding her up.

With post-holiday sales in full swing, traffic on Main Street is steady. Even so, usually you can find a parking spot somewhere. Sometimes I have to walk a block or two, but thus far I've survived the extra effort every time.

If you want to talk real parking problems, try Portland or Seattle or ...

Oops. Sorry. Excuse me for a moment. There's Annie at my office door.

"C'mon in, Sweetums."

"Sweetums? Who's Sweetums?"

"You are, dear."

"Well, I've never been Sweetums before. I knock on the door and before you open it, you're calling somebody Sweetums? Just who is ..."

"How do you feel about the octopus?" I ask, trying to change the subject.

"Octopus?" Annie screeches. "Who cares about the #$*&#% octopus? Wanna know what the real problem in this town is?"

"Well, I ... "

"I'll tell you what it is! It's the #$*&#% parking. Lordy, Lordy, Lordy! I've been driving around the #$*&#% block for I don't know how long looking for one measly #$*&#% parking space. Is that too #$*&#% much to ask? You'd think they'd do something about the #$*&#% parking in this town ..."

If you'd like to read more of Sam's musings on life, visit his new and improved website at, or buy a copy of his latest book, BIG APPETITE.


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