I recently had an epiphany. Not a small epiphany, either, like the kind you get when you think there's no food in the house, and you're about to start eating notebook paper, and then you discover a lone bag of popcorn in the back of your pantry. I mean a real epiphany, like when you realize there's an eye in the center of a hurricane and an "i" in center of the word hurricane.
It all started about a month ago when a light blue Toyota Prius blocked my driveway, and I figured out how to deal with it. Now, I don't want to create any false impressions here, so I shouldn't say that he entirely blocked my driveway. When someone entirely blocks your driveway, the only "how to deal with it" is you get a drill and you poke holes in the car's roof until it looks like a colander on wheels.
No, I mean he slightly blocked my driveway. As in, he was about eight inches over the line; right in that uncertain threshold between "resourceful person trying to eke out the last possible parking space" and "complete jackass who isn't sure whether his car is the size of a desk lamp or the space shuttle."
Now, in a lot of major cities across this great world, this alone would be an infraction worthy of colander-style holes drilled in their roof. In Russia, you see someone eight inches into your driveway, the drill comes out, and BAM! Good luck when it rains.
But in my city, Philadelphia, parking is at a huge premium. What happens in Philadelphia is, people find a parking space in front of their home, or their place of business, and then they live there for all eternity, sometimes forgetting that they even possess an automobile. "You want toilet paper?" they say to their guests, trying to avoid driving to the store. "Here! We've been using these lined note cards for the last few weeks!" You get the sense that if there was a major hurricane coming, and we were given evacuation orders for the entire city, these people would be asking their friends for a ride in order to keep their parking spot.
In fact, things are so bad here that there was even a reality television show about parking in Philadelphia, entitled Parking Wars, where the camera crew followed around meter maids as they wrote tickets. What would happen on the show is, the meter maids would see a car parked somewhere obviously illegal, like blocking a hydrant and a driveway, with two wheels halfway on the sidewalk, and they would start to write it a ticket. And as soon as they were finishing up, the car owner would come tearing out of some non-essential business, like Big Mike's Cat Supplies and Used Electronics, where their primary emergency was that they needed a used VCR, and they would scream obscenities at the meter maid in between cries of: "DIDN'T YOU SEE MY HAZARD LIGHTS WERE ON?"
So I decided to let it go and chalk it up to the perils of living in a big city. Plus, it was no big deal: I could still get in and out of my driveway, so what difference did a few inches really make?
Then a couple days later, I came home one afternoon, and I discovered the Prius had moved. He had gone out, returned to the space, and now he was about ten inches in front of my driveway.
Now, this still wouldn't be so bad, except for two important factors I neglected to mention. Number one: even though my driveway is barely long enough to contain one automobile, it is steeply sloped. So steeply sloped, in fact, that I believe, during major snowstorms, children will flock from all over the American Northeast just to use it as a sledding hill. "I hope we get a snow day today," grade-schoolers in New Hampshire are probably telling their friends. "So we can drive eight hours to Philadelphia and sled down that Internet guy's driveway."
And factor number two: speaking of snow, the forecast was calling for three inches the following day.
So I woke up the next morning, and sure enough, the snow was falling, and sure enough, the Prius was still parked there. Being from Colorado, and owning a capable, four-wheel drive SUV, I didn't see this as a problem at all. Who cares about this Prius? I thought. I can go up this driveway like a mountain goat! And when I went out to lunch, I deftly maneuvered past the Prius without issue.
But as I returned from lunch that day, it happened. I was climbing the driveway, about halfway up, when my car started sliding. First a little. Then a lot. No brakes, no steering, no acceleration. I was at the mercy of my sloped driveway. And that's when I looked in my rearview mirror and saw… the Prius.
So I'm sitting there, sliding down the driveway, white knuckle grip on the steering wheel, my car inching closer to the Prius, and I'm starting to turn sideways, and nothing seems to have an effect, and I'm thinking about how light blue paint will look on my driver's side door, when all of a sudden… I stop. Three inches from our parking-challenged friend in the Prius.
So I breathe a sigh of relief, and I get out, and I check on my driveway, which is now so slippery that if Kevin McCallister were holed up in my house while his family went to Paris, Harry and Marv probably would've just moved on to the neighbors' place, and his parents would've had a nice picnic under the Eiffel Tower without a care in the world. So at this point, I decided to do what I should've done two hours ago, namely shovel my driveway and put down approximately the same amount of salt a James Bond villain might use to melt the polar ice caps.
Anyway: fast-forward to a few days later, and I look outside to see that the Prius is gone. I'm happy. I'm relieved. This isn't something I have to deal with anymore, I think. And yet, as I return home that evening, I see it: he's back. And now he's twelve inches in front of my driveway.
Now, at this point, I'm irate. First it was a few inches in front of my driveway, then a few more, then I almost slid into it, and now it's blocking the thing by at least a freaking foot. This time, when I pull into the driveway, I'm faced with the serious imposition of briefly driving over the curb. IMAGINE THAT!!!!! I think to myself. THE CURB!!!! So I photograph the situation, and I tear into the house, livid about this asshole in the Prius, and I go straight to my computer, where I plan to print off the image and write a nasty note to the offender. WHERE DOES THIS GUY GET OFF PARKING IN FRONT OF MY DRIVEWAY!!!! I think to myself, fuming. So I print off one image, and start to write my angry note, using a REALLY THICK SHARPIE, before I decide that the photo is too dark. So then I go to print off ANOTHER image, but now there's a paper jam. The printer just won't have it. It whirrs and whirrs and the paper gets all crumpled, but nothing is coming out.
So now I'm FURIOUS, and I'm screaming at the Prius guy, and I'm screaming at the printer, and I'm screaming at Hewlett-Packard, at Toyota, at the very act of parallel parking, at the INJUSTICE of PRINTER PROBLEMS and PARKING ASSHOLES, and I'm getting all excited about how many freaking EXCLAMATION POINTS I'm going to use in my nasty note, which I'll leave RIGHT ON THE WINDSHIELD, and…
And that's when I realized something.
When did I become one of those asshole people who complains about parking? I mean, really? Parking? Was I serious? Oh, I had to go over the curb for two seconds to get into my driveway, poor me. So what? Was this some great tribulation? Was I really exerting myself? Was I faced with a serious social inequity here?
And what's next? Would I stand in my doorway and yell at people whose dogs pee on my tree? Would I tell the garbage man to set the bin perfectly upright so I didn't have to bend over to pick it up? Would I start complaining about my dentures to cashiers at the grocery store? Was I really getting this angry about a parking space and a paper jam?
So to address the statement posed in the title, Here's how you deal with someone parking in front of your driveway, I have the answer: you don't. You grow up, you gain some perspective, and you move on. Assuming, of course, that they are only blocking a little bit of your driveway. If they're blocking the whole thing, you respond in an entirely different way: you start looking for an outlet where you can plug in your drill.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.