As someone who's worked at automobile dealerships nearly my entire life, I've given a lot of thought to parking. I've spent an insane amount of time parking a ton of cars in a small space with a focus on keeping them all perfectly lined, organized, and looking nice. I obsess over it. When inventory is way up, I've come up with parking schemes that pack them in tight, but still allow access. When inventory is low, I find ways to fill the space so that it still looks like we have a huge selection. If there's one thing I've learned from a life of obsessing over parking, it's that people suck at parking.

In my family, after we park we get out and rate how we did. My kids especially enjoy this, quickly scurrying out of the car to share their thoughts. A perfect job gets a thumbs up. If we're a little closer to one line than the other, good-natured teasing will ensue. On the line? We get back in and do it over. Why? Because it's the considerate thing to do. On the way into the building, we check out other's parking jobs along the way. It's just what we do.


So today, I ate my lunch in my car in the Wal Mart parking lot. I know what you're thinking: "Man I wish my life was as glamorous as JCAlan's is, what with the OCD parking quirk, and the glamorous locations!" I know! Sometimes it's all a bit overwhelming for me too. But the reason I bring it up is that I observed an insane amount of bad park jobs as the cars around me moved in and out, such as the situation depicted above, which resulted in a car basically parked in the middle of an aisle. And I believe I know why this particular parking lot caused so many problems.

See, this Wal Mart has angled spaces. I know from organizing cars for display, that parking at an angle and keeping a straight bumper line down the row is more difficult than parking straight. You tend to orient yourself based on lining up with the car next to you, and end up with your nose too far out. To keep a perfect line, even a pro really needs a spotter. Amateurs don't stand a chance.

The confusing part to me is, I also know that angled parking takes up more space overall. You park them in at perfect right angles to squeeze them together when inventory is high, and you angle them out when you're filling space because inventory is low. So why would Wal Mart choose this layout?

I already know your rebuttal. You're thinking that they angle them because it takes less room to swing around and pull into the space, allowing for narrower one-way aisles. Problem with that is that people prefer to pull straight through and out when they can, rather than backing out (or in), which means they end up going down the aisle the wrong way and wreaking all sorts of havoc and disrupting the natural order of things. So this Wal Mart combatted that by making each row two-way, with opposite angled access from each side (see prior visual aide,) which means the aisles are just as wide as if the spaces were straight anyway.


So if this rant had a point, it would be two-fold:

1) Parking lots should all have straight spaces because it's easier for people to orient themselves in the spaces, people want to pull through to the space in front of them, and people want to be able to drive up and down any aisle they choose.


2) When you get out of your car, look to see if you're in the stupid space or not. If you're not, MOVE. It's the considerate thing to do.