“Quick, quick,” Wife yelled, opening the front door for me. I grabbed my iPod off the kitchen counter and ran outside.
“Go get ‘em,” I heard her shout behind me, but by then, I was already a good 30 meters outside the house, running towards the garage, adjusting my black leather bag that kept hitting me in the rear end. Our car was parked outside the garage complex, where eight families kept their cars mostly second cars, parked. Most of the tiny garages were used as storage space and so filled with junk that the cars were always outside.
I jumped inside – I had already parked it so that I could just get in and drive – and made a quick left, then another quick left, then a quick U-turn and then an even quicker parallel parking trick, to claim the only empty spot on the street – right outside our house.
I saw Wife standing by the window, giving me a thumbs-up. I smiled back, and flashed the famous Churchillian victory sign. When I got back in, we high-fived each other.
“So there! Eat that!” I yelled, and jumped up and down a couple of times.
“Word!” yelled Wife and then we laughed.
Our celebration was genuine, even if our gangsta style wasn’t. For weeks now, we had waged modern warfare for the spot in front our our door. In the beginning, the enemy was the worst kind: unknown. Somebody kept parking his car right in front of our house, even though it was obvious to everybody that it was our spot. That was the law of our street: everybody gets to park his car in front of his house. So what if he had two or three cars and couldn’t fit them all in his allocated space. Not my problem.
Our neighbors actually knocked on our door if they had to park their car in our spot. When our kids played outside with chalk, each family’s kids only drew stuff in that family’s parking spot.
At first, Wife told me to let it pass.
“Maybe it’s a friend of a family that lives here, how should they know?” she said, the voice of reason.
“Well, it’s common sense”, I said, but acknowledged that she had a point. Besides, by morning, the car had disappeared, so maybe she was right.
The car, a shiny, black Audi, was back the next day. I parked in front of our garage and gave the evil eye to the neighborhood in general. I did the same the next day. And the next. On the fifth day, I did something else. I stayed in front of our house, slowly getting the mail from the mailbox, taking my time, trying to get a good look inside the Audi, fishing for clues that would help me find out whose it was.
I saw an evening paper, a baseball hat, and a coffee cup. Not enough. I looked deeper in our mailbox, as if something has stuck to the bottom, while trying to figure out my next move. I put the bills back into the mailbox, and decided to get a better look at the car. I pressed my forehead against the passenger’s side window, and covered the sides with my hands so I could see better.
Nothing. I wiped the greasy stain of my forehead off the window with my jacket, and went inside. The car was just sitting there. I called Wife and told her that the Audi was there again.
“I’m staking it out. I’m going to be sitting here and wait. Somebody has to move the car sooner or later, and when he does, I’ll see who it is, and I’ll move our car in our spot,” I said.
“Our spot,” said Wife.
“That’s right,” I said. I hung up and stared out the window. The first fifteen minutes were easy. Exciting, even. Then I got bored and started to check Twitter and Facebook, and email. As I got up to make myself a cup of coffee, I glanced out and – the car was gone.
I ran outside, only to see the rear lights of the car disappear down the hill from us. I couldn’t see the driver, but I took a quick photo with my mobile phone, thinking that maybe I could see something if I zoomed in really close in Photoshop. Then I kept running to our car, and made a quick left, another quick left, a quick U-turn, and then an even quicker parallel parking trick.
And then I called Wife.
“I got it! I got the spot, ha ha ha, it’s ours again,” I shouted as soon as she answered the phone.
The next day, I rode my bike downtown and let the car sit where it was. It was my turn to drive in our car pool, but I told the guys my car was in the shop – blamed Wife – that I’d ride my bike instead, and that sorry, boys.
I had the spot for three straight days. Three glorious days. I saw that black Audi parked farther down the street a couple of times, and I laughed. Out loud. I was winning.
On the fourth day, I drove to the grocery store. I know I should have taken my bike, but I got a little cocky. Besides, I thought that our trash cans would be enough to keep the parking space reserved for me. But as I drove back, wouldn’t you know it, the Audi was parked in my spot and the trash cans were sitting pretty on the curb.
To make matters worse, I saw the Audi in front of our next door neighbor’s garage door.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. It hadn’t even occurred to me to check the license plates on the Audi, simply because I didn’t really want to know the person that had chosen “WHTEVRWRKS” as their personal traffic slogan.
But apparently I did know the person.
Of course, when we met each other outside our houses, we never spoke about the car war. The kids played together, we talked about sports, we had barbecue parties together, and we were the best of friends.
But on the street, the war was on. I used trash cans, my bike, I even bought pylons to put on the street, and once paid three Polish guys to wear neon vests and act busy construction workers in my spot all day, but nothing worked. He simply moved the bikes and the pylons, and paid the Polish guys off – and parked his Audi in my spot.
Nothing worked, except having our car there.
So for winter, when we can’t walk and ride our bikes everywhere, Wife and I are now talking about buying a second car that we could park in front of the house.
That’ll show him.