Free Parking? Of Course, Don’t Even Ask…

English: Car Park £ 200 Presumably a decimal s...

English: Car Park £ 200 Presumably a decimal separator has gone amiss and the fee for using this car park beside the Coast Road is £ 2.00. At this time of the year plenty of free parking is available and the car park is closed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Outside our shop we have a forecourt which is intended for the use of our vans, delivery lorries and of course our customers – for the ease of getting glass into their vehicles without too far to walk.  The road beyond that has parking restrictions enforced with a zero-tolerance approach, and beyond that road is the Royal Mail sorting office which has no customer parking of its own which all leads to people collecting parcels to use our forecourt.

I wouldn’t mind if they’d just ask but despite the big signs saying that it’s for customer parking only these people either assume it’s for customers of Royal Mail too or they just don’t care – I’d say it’s the latter.  Maybe one in fifty will actually ask if it’s ok to park there for five minutes and to be honest as long as they’ve not parked in the way I’ll let them.  The rest though just ignorantly, arrogantly abandon their cars on our land, often actually blocking the entrance completely.  I have even witnessed two visitors to the Royal Mail park side-by-side in the sorting office entrance driveway, blocking it completely so that the delivery vans couldn’t get in or out.

As for our own forecourt invaders, they do it even when some of us are outside at lunch time, often looking at us with an expression of “what?  I can do what I like” on their faces.  We’ve even faced torrents of abuse from people who have blocked the entrance or access to our side gate and been asked to move, politely.  “Oh, for f***’s sake, I’m only collecting a parcel, where the f*** am I supposed to park” they shout.  Anywhere but where you have, without asking permission, would be the appropriate reply but by that time they’ve driven off loudly.

They could park in the nearby supermarket car park, or in the bays down the road but no, they might have to spend two minutes walking and that’d be tragic.  Just today one old BMW driver took the biscuit – he parked up, again avoiding eye contact as if he hasn’t seen me he hasn’t had to ask permission.   He then went and picked up his parcel, returned to his car and then sat, as many do, opening the parcel and inspecting the contents.  What he did next though was unbelievable – he opened the bonnet (hood) of his car and proceeded to fit the items from his parcel into the engine bay of his car – so now we provide not just free parking but free garage space too.  Finally tonight we were parking up the vans and a driver pulled up in our car park right where we were about to put a pickup truck “where can you park?” was again the plea.  Ten minutes later she could have used our land as we’d have gone home but at that moment I directed her along the road.  Edit:  even better than those, a few days after publishing this a couple parked in our car park, didn’t ask permission, visited the post office, came back and dumped the parcel in the car and then walked off down the road and into the town centre, coming back over an hour later.  It’s getting worse.

It’s the same at home.  Our building has eleven allocated spaces for eleven apartments and most evenings and at weekends a number of the spaces will be occupied by cars belonging to people who own houses on the adjacent street.  They buy a house with no off-street parking, on a street with clearly signed parking restrictions and then think “oh, where can I park my car?  I know, in that free parking next door.”  The free parking that everybody in this building pays a premium on the rent for.  These same neighbours are also the ones who think that our building’s communal rubbish skips are available for the overflow from their bins and garden waste too, oh and as with the work car park we provide free workshop space too as one neighbour used our car park, in fact the very space where my Citroen now resides, to replace the cooling pipes of his mid-engined MG-F.  All without asking one person if it was ok to get coolant and other fluids all over our tarmac.

The sheer volume of people who exhibit this lack of basic manners, this sense of entitlement to park where they like is troubling.  I was brought up with the maxim that manners cost nothing, yet today it appears that people seem to think that being polite costs them their very soul.

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The World is a Playground… Unfortunately

Wing mirror VW Fox

I’d already had a bad day when I arrived home to see the driver’s side wing mirror hanging forlornly from the door of my car.  I’ve had it nearly ten years, I still enjoy driving it, it’s distinctive, it’s a lovely car if a tad rough (rusty) around the edges.  It’s mine and for someone to physically assault it like this enraged me.

It’s not the first time either, last time though the mirror was saved by its spring-loaded safety mechanism that absorbs the impact and lets you just clip it back.  This time though there was no clipping back and no spring because whoever had hit it this time had done so with enough force to snap the bracket that held the spring.  This time the mirror was dead.

I removed panels, removed the dangling mirror so that the vandals couldn’t have a further kick at it and potentially smash the window with it, unthreaded its control cables so I could fit the parts that attached to the door back, to weather seal the door if nothing else.  Legally I can’t drive it until it has another mirror.  Searches on-line initially showed replacements in the region of £150 (requiring a £300 outlay as they were a newer design) and I thought of again trampling round scrapyards for parts, not relishing that I again turned to Ebay and Amazon and found replacement units for about £30.

So I can fix her, sorry, it.  But I shouldn’t have to, why have I got to spend £30 to repair the results of someone (adult or youth) thinking it’s a good game, clever, fun, big or macho to smash the wing mirror of an old car.  Or kick a wall down, smash a window, pull over a lamp-post…

I can’t begin to imagine how impressed this person’s friends must have been at his (or her) skill at beating up a purple Rover 200.  The next Chuck Norris must live in Newark, clearly.

The Fears of Street Photography

Asian Woman photographing with her digital cam...

Asian Woman photographing with her digital camera in the historic streets of Prague. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A good photo will often tell a story, convey a message, and to do that you need some kind of context whether it’s the weather, movement, light or people.  Street photographers are very good at images of the latter as by definition they are the subject and the context.  For many photographers, myself very much included people are a difficult subject because of a modern fear.

I stopped going out with my old film cameras around 1998 because I was getting more and more suspicious and almost angry looks from passers-by even when I had the Ricoh SLR on a tripod in an otherwise empty park shooting a landscape, there just seemed to be an atmosphere of people thinking there was something strange about photographers – this was shortly after the furore about the paparazzi in the late 90s.  Maybe it was just me but I felt uncomfortable being seen with my camera.

Having started again I still feel the same.  In my camera kit holdall I have a card that outlines the current law in this country which was given away with a magazine last year because of the number of photographers who were being, sometimes angrily, confronted by members of the public telling them that they were actually breaking the law by photographing people or even buildings – in fact if you’re in a public place you can photograph most things and people, including the police or armed forces, as long as you’re not photographing someone inside a private building where they would have an expectation of privacy.  There are today many people who do fear the motives of people with cameras.

I bought my new high-res and well-travelled compact camera last month so I could carry that with me in case I saw a picture and didn’t have my DSLR.  Yesterday I saw a lovely view down a shopping street where I live, the late afternoon sun lighting buildings in the distance, ominous grey clouds on the horizon by contrast, people doing their shopping.  I didn’t take my shiny new camera out of my pocket, I chickened out, all because I was afraid that some of those shoppers would think I was some kind of weirdo and confront me about it.  Ten minutes later I saw a group of tourists taking photos round the corner and nobody seemed to be making anything of them.

The subjects of many street photos probably didn’t even notice they were being photographed, while photographers will often even ask permission to take shots, especially close-up, non-candid shots.

The thing is that I know I’m not alone in feeling uneasy, of being afraid of the public’s potential reactions to photographers, even though I’m sure that most people wouldn’t even think twice about a chap with a camera.

NOTICE ME!

Man's face screaming/shouting. Stubbly wearing...

Man’s face screaming/shouting. Stubbly wearing glasses. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was just outside on the balcony, watching the rain, listening to the gentle drumming of each drop on the timber beside me and the car roof below me; listening to the birds twittering, the gentle rustling of the early spring leaves in the breeze; listening to the… THUMP THUMP THUMP of music from a nearby house, so loud I could hear it outside and down the street.

FFS, as they say.  I muttered to myself how they should go take their music, in their cars with the loud exhausts, and go play in the shopping centre car park.  I’m all for having fun, I play music loud sometimes but if my neighbour wanted to listen to it I’d lend her the CD.

This is part of the obsession with being noticed, of desire to be the centre of attention that leads some to crave fame via TV “talent” shows and others to make their presence known not by making or doing something creatively, significantly, interestingly, or even the age-old way of being stylish or glamorous but by effectively shouting LOOK AT ME!!!

Some ways they do this are amusing, you hear a loud, rasping exhaust note outside and when you look the car isn’t a throbbing V8 muscle car or a grunting V12 Ferrari, but then you didn’t expect it to be, it’s a 1.2 litre Fiesta, Corsa or Saxo being thrashed to within an inch of its life and trundling by at about 15 MPH.  It’s driver thinks it sounds powerful, he thinks everyone’s impressed, he thinks his girlfriend in the passenger seat is impressed.  Nobody’s impressed.

Others stand outside pubs, conversations escalating in volume as though the switch on the TV remote’s got stuck, all needing to be the loudest and probably paying little attention to what everyone else is saying, ironically.

The same extends to work, Facebook, Twitter – people saying anything to be seen, to be recognised.

Is anyone reading this.  Hello.  HELLO!