The Battle for That Safe Spot
A white, horribly visible scratch on the left passenger door of my shiny blue car welcomes me early one morning. I suspect that the culprit is a huge 4×4 that parks too close, and that one of its passengers carelessly opens the door, hitting my car as a result. Of course, by the time I get to the parking lot, the car that hit mine is no longer there.
Unfortunately, the building where we live in is an old one and does not have enough covered parking spaces to accommodate all the cars, so we park in the open space next to our building. It’s just a wide, empty lot of soft desert sand, really. There are no distinct white lines that divide the space into uniform rectangular boxes that brings about discipline in parking. As a consequence, people simply park their cars where ever and however their hearts desire, sometimes without taking into consideration the distance between two vehicles. To give you an idea, take a look at this picture taken from my 9th floor window:
The picture is taken at around 8 pm. By midnight, there’s not enough space for even a motorcycle.
Taking the car to the shop to have the 1 ½ inch scratch fixed costs 400 dirham ($110) because, according to the repair guy, “We’ll have to paint the entire door.” We think about it and decide not to have the door painted because, well, what if we get a fresh scratch in the parking lot again? Like in the next two days? There’s no guarantee for as long as we are parking on that empty space. Given that our car is at a high risk for such scratches, we decide to get the paint job done when there are at least two or more scratches, to justify the cost. Also, we only have the basic, third party insurance because we’re looking at halal options (like Takafful, for instance).
Fortunately, we discover a safe spot not too long ago.
Notice the blocks of concrete located at the front and back of the car? They conveniently act as a safety barrier that prevents other vehicles to park too close to ours! However, given the fact that this isn’t a private parking lot for my exclusive use, there are nights when there is another vehicle parked in that spot. Luckily, I get the space most of the time. The moment I see it empty, I race towards it like there’s no tomorrow, struggle to parallel park (with Masood standing outside and giving me instructions), lock the car, walk a few steps away, and then look back with a smile of triumph on my face. Once in my apartment, I rush towards the window and take a look again.
The guy who cleans our car asks Masood one night, apparently after seeing me take fifteen minutes to park the car, “Why do you have to painstakingly park there when there’s so much empty space around?” We briefly explain the scratch story, to which he replies, “Ah.”
So until there’s a vacant covered and safe parking space available in our building, we’ll have to outrun the other cars to claim this safe spot.