'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
PARKING LOTS ARE HAZARDOUS
When a person receives a driver’s license from the state Department of Motor Vehicles, he or she is not automatically allowed to drive any vehicle in any situation. For example, possessing a basic driver’s license does not give someone the right to operate a motorcycle or a tractor trailer truck. To be able to drive these vehicles legally, a person needs to take additional tests and receive special licenses.
I think we’ve reached the point where the state should require people to pass a special test and receive a special license to be allowed to operate a motor vehicle inside one of the most difficult and dangerous environments known to the modern motoring world: the parking lot.
Let’s face it, there are many people out there with valid driver’s licenses—people who are probably only minor menaces out on the highway—but the moment they drive into a parking lot they become more hazardous than sprinkling arsenic on your oatmeal for breakfast.
Certain basic skills and abilities are required to drive a motor vehicle on a regular road. For example, at a minimum, the driver must be breathing. That’s kind of important. Also, the driver must not be legally blind and must not be prone to swerving into oncoming traffic just because he’s curious to see if his airbag deploys properly during a head-on collision.
However, to drive safely in a parking lot, additional skills and abilities are required: alertness, common sense, good judgment, and most of all, patience. I don’t need to point out that in our modern-day society these four items are in very short supply.
But that’s not all. Other skills and abilities are needed for a driver to keep his or her visit to the mall from turning into a visit to the Coney Island bumper cars ride—except at the mall the vehicles being used often require $5,000 worth of repairs after bumping into a shopping cart at 2 mph.
In a parking lot, the driver must have a good idea of how long and wide his vehicle is. (You’d be amazed at how often a person driving a 7-foot wide car tries to squeeze it into a 6-1/2 foot wide parking space.) The driver must be able to use the mirrors properly. (You’d be amazed at how many people think car mirrors are more confusing than high school algebra.) The driver must be able to comprehend that when he puts his car into reverse, it will actually move…backwards! (You’d be amazed at how many people—oh heck, you’re not amazed. You see it every day just like I do.)
I admit it may be impractical for the state to test all drivers for parking lot skills and then issue special licenses. Currently at the DMV, you are required to wait in line for three hours just to find out you’ve been standing in the wrong line. Imagine how long the wait will be if there is a whole new level of testing and licensing. Also, if you were required to go to the DMV office to get a parking lot operator’s license, presumably you first would have to park in the DMV parking lot, which means you’d be breaking the law.
Well, maybe the state at least can institute some new rules that will make parking lots a bit less hazardous. As a first step, I suggest making it legal for the mall security people, if they observe anyone navigating through the parking lot while at the same time talking on a cell phone, to shoot the driver on sight. This will make us all much safer.
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