Dealing with parking pigs

Tuesday 8 July 2008This is more than 15 years old. Be careful.

I work in a large Hewlett Packard facility in Marlborough Massachusetts. It has enough parking for thousands of cars (though much of it is unused). Of all of those spots, one row is unusual: due to its proximity to a row of tall tree, those spots are the only ones that are in full shade at the end of the work day. In these muggy summer days, those spots are highly prized.

Recently, one individual has been taking two spots for his Mustang. He parks at a slight diagonal across two spaces, I assume to ensure that his car is not dinged by those on either side of him. People often park over the lines, due to trying to back into spaces, but those people clearly were trying to fit into one spot. It’s a little annoying that these people don’t work at their parking a little better to avoid taking two spots, but I don’t think they’re being malicious.

The Mustang, though, is clearly parking purposefully. He has decided that he deserves two spots. I tried leaving a note on his windshield (“Please don’t take two parking spaces, thanks.”), but the next day he had parked diagonally again.

So now I’m torn about what to do. He’s being inconsiderate and greedy in deciding that he deserves two spots, no doubt about it. When I see him parked like that, I think, “if he didn’t do that, I could park there.” But that’s not true. All the other cars would be parked one spot closer, and I’d park only one spot closer than I did, an insignificant improvement.

I’m pretty sure he’s the kind of person who wouldn’t do something like this face-to-face. The anonymity of the parking lot makes it possible for him to act this way. Ironically, it also allows me to put a note on his windshield. If I were to see him park diagonally, I’m not sure I would approach him in person to ask him not to do it.

So, what to do? Should I continue leaving notes on his car? Notes with my phone number? Should I tell the security guy about it? Should I take a deep breath and focus on more important things?


Eat a tonne of blueberries wait a few hours and shit on his hood, he'll think the blue poop was some huge bird and won't park under the tree again ;-)

Or you could carry on leaving notes.
1) A whole bunch of blank sticky notes and one large sticky note saying "cut here."
2) Get someone with a motorcycle or smart car to use the partially cut-off space.
3) If security acts on poor parking, by all means let them know.
You've left a note. It was ignored. So unless you organize a campaign of co-workers to start leaving increasing numbers of notes plastered all over the car, I'd try something else. Security? If there are parking regulations, sure.

Other thoughts:

Leaved stuffed (or paper mache, or cardboard) pigs on the car instead of notes.

Find or make fake car scratch stickers and make him think someone keyed his oh-so-important car.

Draw big numbers, 1 and 2, at the open end of the spots.

Brick it in (or otherwise think of college pranks).
Take a picture and post it somewhere prominent in the building (a bulletin board or whatever) with some pithy comment? Or no comment, just "Discuss:" and some blank space. I'm sure you aren't the only one who has noticed, if nothing else it will let people amuse themselves.
He would not like to upset people to the point they do bad things to the painting of his pretty car, no? Maybe pointing the fact that he might be exposing himself to that costly little jockes may make him think?
(it takes merely 5 seconds to degradate a car painting, and the cost of repainting the whole, because the color is never the same, is just _very_ unpleasant).

Obviously I you speak about that, don't let your phone number ;)
I like the suggestion from Ian, but eating blueberries is a nice way to pass the time - especially if it involves coffee soon there after.

Is the parking free? If you've got to pay to park, I'm sure the parking company would love to know that they're potentially losing a chunk of money. Do you have a local HR/employee representative type of person? Perhaps they can post a note on an intranet or something?

In all honesty, you're better off either telling the appropriate individual or just shrugging it off and letting it go. Probably smarter just to let it go.... watch it wind up being someone you indirectly report to.
Ha...that's totally annoying. I remember idiots doing that with their new Audi A4s over in Kendall Square (Cambridge, MA) who did that for awhile. Ian's got the best solution: group ridicule.

I'd report it to the building security (if it's not one of the guy's working security detail -- afterall, it's a Mustang, and doesn't sound like one of those classic '65 ones) and see if they can leave an official not, and then eventually tow it if he ignores it. Usuaally there's some form of parking policy in those big technical centers.
I would take a picture of the car and give it to security. If that doesn't do it I would post that picture on multiple bulletin boards explaining the problem.
I kind of like the bricking-in idea. Alternatively, take pictures, add appropriate captions, and tape them in the entranceways so anybody who knows whose car it is can deliver appropriate scorn.
Park diagonally next to him if there's room. Pretend there's no lines, park diagonally too, just the right amount of space away as if there were lines, he was in them and they were diagonal. Get others to follow suit, he'll park somewhere else.
A while back I read about somebody who made a bunch of stickers titled "You Park Like An Asshole", with checkboxes underneath for various offenses. It would be best if the adhesive was the permanent, unremovable kind. Stick some on the windshield, immediately in front of the driver's seat.

(^-- I like dogs, but I didn't choose that picture)
A bit of humor doesn't hurt, and can get the message across.

Try a potato in the exhaust pipe(s) each day. :-) It won't damage anything, but will let the driver know that someone out there, somewhere, is annoyed!
You could print this out and put it on his car:

(Site is NSFW but this link is safe.)
Get some water-based paint and write WANKER in large letters on his car. Feel satisfied that the driver will at least have felt some trepidation. It's people like him the word was invented to describe.

Then forget the whole thing.
There's a lot of good advice here.

In the past, we've used pre-printed Way To Go! notes designed for teachers to use with kindergarteners. Maybe we can use those again.

In any case, I think now when I see the diagonal car, I'll think with a smile of some of these ideas rather than just getting aggravated!
You could get an orange traffic cone, and stick a sign in it that says "Please stop leaving notes; I deserve two spots because I am better than you." then place it in the vicinity of the car.
If you want to change how someone behaves, you have to look at their motivation, and then do exactly the opposite of what they hope to achieve. I see a couple options...

Option 1, Jennifer's idea: Park your car on a diagonal next to his. Make sure you're uncomfortably close, so he has to wonder whether or not you had to push your door against his car to get out. Then leave a note that says, "Sorry I parked so close, but I wanted to make sure there was room for other people to park in the shade." Works best if your car is a Piece Of Sh*t that you obviously don't care gets dented.

Option 2, the Evil Option: Don't park next to him. Just leave a note that says, "Sorry about the ding. I wasn't expecting your car to be parked at such an odd angle". Let him wonder where the [non-existent] ding is.

Option 3: Spray paint a diagonal shape parking space and put up a sign that says, "This space reserved for egotistical buffoons who don't think you deserve to park in the shade."
BTW, when did you change your background to [L -> +RF-LFL-FR+, R -> -LF+RFR+FL-]?
Another idea: Take a picture of the car, Photoshop "FAIL" somewhere in it, post it to, and leave a note with the URL.
Create a self-standing sign that reads "Reserved for Asshole" and put it in front of the door so he has to move it to get in the car.

Whatever you decide on, you must post the outcome here.
Check out: Beyond that, if you're not into practical jokes, and complaining to authority doesn't work, then just let it go. Vandalism will just get you screwed.
Public ridicule would be best, but if that's not an option, I second or third the idea of parking VERY close to him. I was in Israel last month and had the same situation. My assigned parking spot was being taken over by a diagonal parker. I was driving a rental car that was beat up anyway, so I parked exactly parallel to the car, two inches away, and crawled out through the hatchback. The parker got the message; next day, no problem.
Place one of these on his bumper:

See how long it takes for him to notice.
I probably should not have checked the box to see future comments. I now have a much longer list of horrible ideas in my mailbox than I expected. For all Ned knows this is a board member or something. And regardless of who it is, there's no reason to be uncivil to a coworker, even if the coworker is being rude. Anything more than a lighthearted jab at this guy is putting more emotional effort into the problem than it's worth.
A bit devious but what the heck. Go down to Home Depot. Buy 4 cinder building block. Cost about $5. I assume you have a car jack. Park next to the guy. Lunch time, whip out the jack. Jack up the car and place a block under each wheel. Hopefully you can get the clearance. Your parking hog will have to figure out what to do....

Hopefully your park hog will get the message.
Bike Riding Coder 10:20 PM on 8 Jul 2008
You should smash his windshield with your U-lock. Duh!
Apparently lots of people run websites with similar themes... the one I've seen is
i like the "sorry i left a ding" note best.
Put its picture up in the You Park Like an Asshole Flickr pool for all the world (and us) to see!
Linked in from UHub here ...

You could leave a pint of blueberries on the hood for the tree birds to eat. I'm sure they would make a good mess of the car in the process.

Creative use of clings is good too - scratch fakes, bullet holes ...

My mother once took the uneaten portion of a tuna sandwich and tucked it somewhere that it wouldn't be found for a couple of days. I don't remember why she did this, other than it was royally well-deserved.
Let all the air out of one of his tires. It only takes a minute and leaves no lasting harm, but it will annoy him greatly.

If he doesn't get it the first time, let the air out of two of his tires.
Security at one place I used to work at would target persistent parking offenders with large adhesive labels fixed to the windscreen. They were extremely time consuming to remove.
When I first moved to Boston, we had a "parking lot vigilante" in my apartment building. I had a rental car for a job interview and parked it in the lot not realizing that there were assigned spots. The next morning all the tires were flat. A couple months later my roommate's girlfriend parked in the lot and someone slashed her tires. Apparently it was the same guy. Working through the apartment manager my roommate tracked the guy down and got him to pay for repairs. The guy could have left a note. If it was ignored he could have just called the building's tow service but he decided to take matters into his own hands.

You left a note. The parking behavior didn't change. If it still bothers you, complain to building security and let them deal with it. Doing anything to the car crosses the line (no pun intended).
When I was working at Yahoo! there was a "random chat" mailing list, mainly for people to let off steam - with a decent proportion of the company (or at least the company's engineers) subscribed. Parking was a very common topic, and often people would post photos of badly parked cars with the number plate clearly visible. I think it even resulted in a Flickr group.
Is an innocent explanation for this behaviour possible? I can imagine two quite easily.

What if this driver has some kind of physical disability or just a temporary sports injury which means he/she needs a lot of space to get in and out of the car? OK, maybe *they* should leave a note, or arrange some special parking or something, but you'd feel bad about doing some anonymous revenge mischief only to see a wheelchair-bound victim rolling up.

Another possibility is that the car has broken down there or has been abandoned by criminals. Has it definitely moved each day? Is there a foul stench eminating from the trunk?

Even if you doubt the breakdown/abandonment hypothesis, it gives you an innocent-looking way to draw attention to the problem. You can report the car as apparently abandoned (to the police if not to the security guards). Then something will happen, and the owner will be contacted, but you haven't assumed malice or selfishness or even incompetence on their part. On the contrary, you've assumed that no-one would ever deliberately park that badly.
> Ian's got the best solution: group ridicule.

Seconded. Plus contact parking lot security and let them know, which is sort of the same thing.
Just write a second note and say that the next reminder will be written using a screwdriver...
explosives. lots of explosives.
I know some people who live in the North End that could put chairs in the parking spaces so that he only takes one space himself. All he would have to do is move those chairs ONCE and it would never happen again.
I prefer the simple expedient of hucking a lunger on the windshield (or, if you have very good aim and wish for more intimate contact, the driver's side door handle.) Very quick, very satisfying.
Each day on your way to work, eat some fruit. When you arrive at work, leave the pit, peel, or core, etc. onto the windshield of the car.

It's annoying yet harmless, safe for the environment, and it's a healthy way to start your day!
I recommend these:

(Click on the 2nd & 3rd pics for a better idea of what these guys are acutally selling.)
I think Ken's idea makes some sense. I also like the non-existent ding message.

When I was a student in Ireland they used to put a BIG notice on the window of you car if you parked badly. It was really hard to remove. That's a possibility, but that's bringing yourself down to the driver's level. (And it may not be a man, though that seems more likely.)

Alternately get in really early for a few mornings and park their yourself (not diagonally). Once they get into the habit of parking properly they may just stay like this.

How is HP in Marlboro working out? I was in the early stages of dating my wife while we both worked in one of the really big DEC buildings there. So the place has very fond memories.
Wednesday's update: the Mustang is parked diagonally again. I left a note that said simply, "Please?"

We're considering other public humiliation action...
I know that this will come as s surprise, given the source. But why should you even give it another thought? Just park elsewhere. Sooner or later, his comeuppance will be at hand, and there is no reason for you to spend a single second thinking about it. All the clever post-its and bumper stickers are obviously not going to change his behavior, and there is always the potential of a confrontation, which likely wouldn't be good for anybody.

Park in the sun and enjoy the summer.

Or, you could key his car and shank two of the tires. Your choice.
There was a guy who parked his H3 up on the curb in the last spot on the row so that there a good sized gap between him and the next spot.. so someone took a picture and added the caption "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should!" and then covered all the bulletin boards and exit doors with copies. He didn't do it again.
Leave a note for the guy and tell him that if he were a real man, he'd have sprung for the V8 instead of the six cylinder secretary special.
I say save your righteous indignation for something more important. Live and let live. Unless there's a rule that says use only one space, the lines are just a suggestion.
Incidentally, the number of cylinders can be determined by the number of exhaust pipes: one pipe, six cylinders; two pipes, eight cylinders. If he does have the V8, make fun of his antiquated solid axle rear suspension.
If it really annoys you, give up a week, get up really really early every morning & park in that space. (Properly, of course). Maybe he or she will give up and start parking somewhere else.
@andrew: The voice of reason and restraint? Florida has mellowed you.
@Bob: Carrying multiple guns around at all times (especially in MIA) has made me a master of avoidance and deescalation.
I just find stuff like this SO interesting. Both that people do stuff like that (minor, but so socially inappropriate) and that it annoys the s*** out of the rest of us so much.

I'm sure none of us can think of anything we do that might drive someone else wild and yet it's likely that we too have made someone so annoyed that they'd like to smack us.

I'd like to think that the guy totally didn't realize that the shady spots were so prized. But deep down, I agree: he's a jerk!
First, find out if the owner is your boss. Or your bosses' boss. This is very important.
Why not just find out who it is and ask him face-to-face not to do it. Maybe I missed this suggestion somewhere, but it's the thing to do. If you can not solve it on a person-to-person level, then take it up the chain.

But, always talk to the person first. People seem *afraid* to talk to other people now a days. If you're afraid, then find out his cell # and text him. But please, don't be afraid ;).

And like mike said, make sure he can't make your life uncomfortable.
Add a note:
Hope you don't mind I don't think you'll even notice the dent, but it was hard trying to get in.
Don't try and park however. You'll waste the drivers time as he looks for a non-existent new dent.

- Paddy.
for tire in mustang:
>>>>del tire['air']

Aw for heaven's sake-- some of you are really a bunch of sissies! The guy is an ass, plain and simple-- and he must know damn well those parking spots are highly prized. It's the principle! I strongly recommend boxing him in with your car and 2 or 3 other commuters' cars (I imagine you only need one car to do it, though more would show solidarity).

I find it hard to stomach it even when people park close to the line- although, unless you actually see them park the car there, you don't know it was their fault, cause it could have been dead center based on previous cars that left already by the time you got there. I did see an incompetent, inconsiderate botched parking once though, and like Dan, I boxed them in and crawled out the passenger side door.
prefer anonymous

*Why is greedy parking an important question on corporate culture?
How did General George Washington motivate his volunteer army?
Despite no money and mostly losses against the British.
See #86 on share and share alike.
Good parking spaces are shared, not 'reserved'
small things like random 'illicit substance' searches,
'outsource training exercises', rumor and gossip.
leaving the xerox machine jammed,
accidentally telling the janitor to wash out the coffee pots with
soap. - you didn't touch the pot, the janitor did.
HP - Board Chair spies on fellow directors.
Finance professors prove that Top Management ILLEGAL back dating
of stock options is commonplace.
Much of Internet e-mail is filled with spam and phishing attempts.
LARGE CO. sales dept pitch to customers:
one back to pat; NO, no... one throat to choke.
you know which large company.

*Here's my question?
How come top management has not NOT planted sufficient shade for
ALL CARS? At the company picnic, why do the Japanese, Korean
and other company CEOS help the janitors clean up?
software analogy:
why does SAP enterprise software work in the world and germany, but
NOT in the US? Different culture?!

*How to predict the future?
Easier to sense danger than reward.
*Project Management:
101 Ways To Know Your Software Project Is Doomed
Time, Resource Cost, Quality, Scope
100. You have been 90% complete 90% of the time with 90% rollout to 90% quality
alas, the team missed (off by one) one hundred percent.
Top Management Perspective
68. Your project budget is entered in the company ledger as ‘Corporate Overhead’
74. Your boss argues “Why buy it when we can BUILD it!”
Mismatch responsibility and authority
2. You start hiring consultants so they can take the blame
52. Your boss expects you to spend the next 2 days creating a purchase request for a $50 component
Intra Organization Fighting
53. The sales team decreased your estimates because they believe you can work faster
58. Management can not understand why anyone needs more than a single monitor
Top Management Consultants
93. Your manager substitutes professional consultant advice for a Magic 8 Ball
20. Your manager could be replaced by an email redirection batch file
35. Your manager thinks MS Project is the best management tool the market offers
45. Your manager does not know how to check email
46. Your manager thinks being SOX compliant means not working on baseball nights
73. Your project managers ‘open door’ policy only applies between 5:01 PM - 7:59 AM
87. The project manager likes to doodle during requirements gathering meetings
Demotivated Leaders
50. Your manager spends his lunch hour crying in his car (another true story)
67. To reward you for all of your overtime your boss purchases a new coffee maker
Time Schedule
78. All code reviews are scheduled a week before product launch
Decision making
43. Your manager insists that you track all activity but never uses the information to make decisions
Attention to cosmetics
47. The company hires Senator Ted Stevens to give your project kick-off inspiration speech
No time for Quality Assurance
7. Allocated QA time is for Q and A why your crap is broken
79. Budget for testing exists as “if we have time”
When in doubt, suppress 'bad news'
11. Every iteration meeting starts with “Do you want the good news or the bad news…”
Poor teamwork
16. The SCRUM master doesn’t really care what you did yesterday or what you will do today
89. Your SCRUM team consists of 1
17. Every milestone ends in a dead sprint
60. Developers are not responsible for any testing
When cooking delicate fish, keep flipping it in the pan to ruin it.
30. Your manager wastes 7 hours a week asking for progress reports (true story)
39. You get into flame wars if { should be on new line, but you are impartial to patterns such as MVC
Slogans change
40. The company motto is ‘Do more with less’
9. You start considering a new job so you don’t have to maintain the application you are building
Overwork and personal burnout
15. You are friends with the janitor
Note: you enjoy sneaking a drink with the janitor
75. You bring beer to the office during your 2nd shift
57. The night shift at Starbucks knows you by name
101. “Oh, oh, and I almost forgot. Ahh, I’m also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too… thanks”
36. Your spouse only gets to see you on a webcam
55. Everyday you work until Midnight, everyday your boss leaves at 4:30
83. You start wondering if working 2 shifts at Pizza Hut is a better career alternative
86. Your car is towed from the office parking lot as it was thought to be abandoned
90. Your timesheet looks like a Powerball ticket
Supervisor is bad at budgeting
25. Project estimates magically match the budget
76. The project manager is spotted consulting a Ouija board
49. The overall budget is mistaken for your weekly Mountain Dew bill
Responsibility is shifted to code or process
Self Assessment - not necessarily in that order
92. You think you need Multiple Personality Disorder medication because you are Mort, Elvis, and Einstein
Excuses and Rationalizations
26. Developers use the excuse of ’self documenting code’ for no comments
29. Developers still use Notepad as an IDE
32. Team Rule - No meetings until 10 AM since we were all here until 2 AM
Making the same mistake over and over again
99. QA has nicknamed you Chief Off-By-One
64. The project code name is renamed to ‘The Death March’
65. Now it physically pains you to say the word - Yes
69. You secretly outsource pieces of the project so you can blog at work
71. Daily you consider breaking your fingers for the short term disability check
96. You have cut and pasted code from The Daily WTF
Spreading misinformation
77. You give misinformation to your teammates so you look better on your personal review
When you don't know where you are going, all roads are the same
8. All of your requirements are written on a used cocktail napkin
63. The client continually mistakes your burn-down chart for a burn-up chart
80. The client will only talk about the requirements after they receive a fixed estimation
85. The project has been demoted to being released as a permanent ‘Beta’ version
14. Continuous Integration is getting new employees to read the employee handbook
59. Your development team only uses source control as a power failure backup system
Certifications are NOT real world
21. The only certification your software process has is ISO 9001/2000
Strategic use of patterns and templates is missing
27. Your favorite software pattern is God Object
QA Unit Testing
37. None of your unit tests have asserts in them
97. Broken unit tests are deleted because they are obviously out of date
Lack of continuing education
48. The last book you read - Visual InterDev 6 Bible
Penny wise and pound foolish
31. You do not have your own machine and you are not doing pair programming
No understanding of architecture understanding
34. Your team believes the transition from VB6 to VB.NET will be ’seamless’
4. You have implemented your own Ruby framework that uses XML configuration files
No separation of concerns: production and testing server
44. All debugging occurs on the live server
62. Your white boards are mostly white (VersionOne)
66. Your teammates don’t refactor, they refuctor
72. The deadline has been renamed a ‘milestone’…just like the last ‘milestone’
1. Management has renamed its Waterfall process to Agile Waterfall
22. Your manager thinks ‘Metrics’ is a type of protein drink
To focus on everything is to focus on nothing
23. Every bug is prioritized as Critical
Lack of focus on important features
24. Every feature is prioritized as Trivial
We Know It All
10. The lead web developer thinks the X in XHTML means ‘extreme’
18. Your best developer only has his A+ Certification
42. The last conference your .NET team attended was Apple WWDC 2000
98. You are sent to a conference to learn, but you skip sessions to go hunting for swag
28. You still believe compiling is a form of testing
33. Your team believes ORM is a ‘fad’
Test on Your Machine, not the real world
41. The phrase ‘It works on my machine’ is heard more than once a day
51. Your lead web developer defines AJAX as a cleaning product
54. Requirement - Rank #1 on Google
91. The web developer thinks being 508 means looking good in her Levi Red Tabs
Lack of understanding of people motivation
56. Your manager loves to say “Why do the developers care? They get paid by the hour.”
81. The boss does not find the humor in Dilbert
Boss is lying, however poorly
82. You start noticing your boss’s poker tells during planning poker
Demotivating Human Factors
3. The Continuous Integration server has returned the error message “Fuck it, I give up”
38. FrontPage is your web page editor of choice
Failure prone infrastructure or 'driving on bald tires, in the rain'
Solve the memory leaks by buying more memory
84. All performance issues are resolved by getting larger machines
88. You are using MOSS 2007 - Sharepoint
Version Control
6. Your source code control system is a series of folders on a shared drive
61. The team does not use SVN because they believe the merge algorithms are black voodoo magic
70. A Change Control Board is created and your product isn’t even its first alpha version
94. You know exactly how many compile warnings cause an ‘Out of Memory’ exception in your IDE
95. I have used IDE twice in this list and you still don’t know what it stands for
Hardening of the arteries of the brain
5. Your eldest team member references Martin Fowler as a ’snot-nosed punk’
19. You do not understand the acronyms DRY, YAGNI, or KISS; but you do understand WTF, PHB, and FUBAR
Metrics are sometimes inappropriate
12. Your team still gives a crap about its CMM Level?
13. Progress is now measured by the number of fixed bugs and not completed features
Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

Are you ready to create a new enemy? Then go for it. If not, think about something else. are rather funny. They won't work. You need to escalate much further. If you do that, you will break rules yourself, probably rules that are more important than "use only one space".

There is only one exit: take a picture, and print it. Repeat until you have a dozen. Then take it to somebody who is interested in this kind of abuse.
Evidently the Mustang herd at HP has lost it's way since I departed. An unexpected consequence. . .

Anyway, at this point I think you print out the series of URLs of the sites that have linked to you, and put THOSE on his windshield. Maybe the public scorn of thousands will move him.
Sylvain Galineau 3:11 PM on 25 Jul 2008
If you must leave a second note, it may more effective, given his attitude, to appeal to the man's vanity e.g. "how about driving a car you can afford to park properly ?"
Latest update: after other people started leaving notes on his car, we took a photo of his two-space diagonal technique, printed it as a 24x36 poster with a title of "Way to Park!" and taped it up next to the door out to the parking lot.

The next day, the poster was gone, and he was parking in only one space. But still diagonally!
Why don't you just park diagonally too crybaby? People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
I'm reading all these comments from people telling everyone to commit crimes to teach the driver a lesson. Here's an idea. You don't own the lot, so all you can do is report them, and move on. Doing anything to their car will get your arrested, and posting anything about them on the Internet will get you sued for harassment. Both this with get you jail time.

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