About Parking Hogs (and Blame in General)

I used to get annoyed by people who parked so that their car took up more than one space, or so that there was no room to park my car in an adjacent space. I used to judge them as being selfish, arrogant, and inconsiderate. Recently, my understanding of parking hogs has changed, and so has my relationship to blame in general.

When I arrive in a parking lot and find that a car is parked so that an otherwise perfectly good space cannot be used, how can I know why that car is parked that way? The simplest explanation is that when they parked, the car adjacent to them had been parked poorly, and they were forced to park non-optimally too.

Immediately, I can see that this person might not have been guilty of a parking sin themselves but were just doing the best they could given what the previous person had done. But it’s not even possible to pass the blame back to the driver of that car, even if that car is still there, because they too might also have been the victim of a parking hog.

This chain of causation can be traced back to someone, at some point, theoretically parking a car inconsiderately. Perhaps when the parking lot was empty, someone parked straddling two spaces. However, before I go searching for a car parked straddling two spaces on its own in a parking lot so that I can place an angry note on their windshield, I have to realize that they too might have been the victim of other bad parkers who have subsequently left.

Even if I placed a camera to watch the parking lot and catch someone inconsiderately parking their car when they were not forced to by other inconsiderately parked cars, I would still not be able to ascribe blame.

To blame them would be to assume that they could have done something different. However, they clearly didn’t do something different, as evidenced by the bad parking. In this reality, they parked badly. The idea that they had a choice is to believe in some fantasy reality where that person parked differently. That reality does not exist.

Perhaps I judge that person as not being inconsiderate, not thinking of others. Well, even if that were true, how could they have thought of others if they were not thinking of others. It’s not like they had a choice and they choose not to; they just didn’t.

So now do we blame their parents? Maybe this original shitty parker had “bad parents,” but they too were just doing the best they could. Maybe the father was massively traumatized from war and physically abused the son. Maybe the son reacted by learning to not consider the needs of his father, but instead to focus only on what he needed. Maybe this greedy parker didn’t grow up, like many of us did, with parents who taught them to be continually obsessing about not troubling other people.

And all of that is how it is. It’s not like there was ever a choice anywhere in any of that. All of that unfolded as it did, in the only way it could unfold. So who is to blame? It’s just the way it is. And I think I’m so special and important that I get to judge all of reality as not being how it should be and I get to stand apart from the natural perfection of everything and proclaim it to not be to my liking?

Madness.