I’m a sardine in a tin.
A room renter in a new subdivision.
Where it’s clear that the city sought to pack ’em in to maximize revenue and let residents battle bloodily like piranhas for the single precious commodity. The. Prized. Parking. Place.
Even San Francisco parking pales in comparison to this segment of metro Phoenix (AZ). A BOLD statement indeed. Having lived in the City decades ago before it and California swirled irretrievably down the crapper, I know of what I speak.
As comparison, for its undeniable parking arduousness, what San Francisco has in its favor is opportunity. Yes, you’ll have to drive ’round and perhaps park 8 blocks away or in an adjoining neighborhood then walk — or take Uber I guess in this culture of Laziness and technology — there IS parking to be found and it will be found with persistence.
Not so in this subdivision.
To be fair, every sardine-d condo has a garage for one, perhaps two cars depending on size. For reasons unadvertised, I’ve no garage parking access, relegating me to the roadside piranha pool.
Due to geographical logistics/layout — details unnecessary — it’s park there or nowhere.
Or at some motel.
Which is precisely what I nearly did — just a couple nights after moving in, when I was learning the lay of the land.
The Land of No Parking.
I returned early one evening to park. Found precisely: Nothing.
Round and round and up and down the same citified subdivisioned narrow roads — where two vehicles can pass barely — I went.
“God, if this is the daily norm for residents, imagine what visitors face! Imagine the holidays with umpteen friends and family visiting umpteen residents!” I shuddered at visions of 60 people vying for one spot, followed by preliminary ponderings of a personal escape route. Arizona’s vast deserts are nearby … and parking’s never a problem …
Like a tweeking hamster on a wheel I drove, round round round the same several blocks, not only on the lookout for a space but more importantly anyone walking, sitting in a car, headlights on, turning wheels, the sound of an engine … ANY possible sign that a person’s leaving.
For some 25 minutes I did this. It’s not even late! Just after 8 o’clock. On a Monday night no less!
I was not alone.
I repeatedly passed the same drivers circling on that hamster wheel in our shared relentless fruitless pursuit of that piece of paradise called a parking place. That slice of concrete of exceptional value. Only the Sunrise Ruby is more precious. It sold for more than $30 million. That’s $1.18 million per carat.
So’s you can appreciate: The Sunrise Ruby is the world’s most expensive ruby and most pricey gemstone other than diamond. It’s named after a poem by the Sufi poet Rumi.
I finally — and this is so goddamn hard to say, so very contrary to my nature — WAS FORCED. TO. GIVE. UP.
Yes indeedy, I threw in the towel, nearly input “nearby motels” into my GPS. Remember now, I’m totally maxed-out aggravated, tired, exhausted in fact, and pissed off … and as a renter I’m paying for it all, which reallly pisses me off.
One can fantasize …
Truth told, I haven’t in me to disrespect others’ cars or my own in this way.
Fueled by dogged refusal to tack on motel costs to housing for which I already pay, I ventured afar for the sole solution. Leave the area.
So I hopped on the major thoroughfare and weaved around ’til I found something. Something legal. Something that wouldn’t incur costs of towing and impounding, say.
Turned out to be a spot on the other side of a very busy, fast, wide and most pedestrian-unfriendly thoroughfare (not a crosswalk or signal anywhere near!) a quarter of a mile or so away.
Crossing the “mini-freeway” demands a certain finesse, precision timing and athletic prowess as if scurrying for one’s life. Because you do.
Thankfully I’m sporty and most importantly wasn’t loaded with precious goods like laptop or groceries or things to slow me. From start to finish, the endeavor to get home ate up about 45 minutes. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiice. 😦 😦 😦
That single night taught all I needed to know.
1. Weekdays, if you don’t arrive in a narrow window between morning (after residents go to work) and 2-3 p.m., good luck. Just as well search for the elusive snow leopard. Weekends are less predictable.
2. Wear good shoes — for a hike home and/or risky sprint across speedy thoroughfare
3. Carrying anything? Drop it off at the house first, THEN go look for parking. You may get lucky and find it in 5. Or in 25.
As a Phoenix newcomer, I need to orient, explore, meet people, hence it pains to admit that I am a Prisoner of Parking.
Worse than being a Prisoner of Love. I’ve been that too.
I do opt out of activities, curtail pleasures, avoid social engagements, postpone errands SO AS NOT TO LOSE A PARKING SPOT.
Like Friday night. Roommate asked whether I was going out. Seems I should. I am new to town, after all. I know no one except the roommate.
“NO WAY!” I shot back faster than Bruce Jenner off the starting block.
“I got a parking space!”
Short of it is, I wouldn’t wanna live in the big house. But them prisoners got a freedom I ain’t got. A freedom from parking purgatory, the 8th circle, unofficially, on Dante’s list.