I'd like to think that I've given my best shot at being diplomatic over the course of the last year and a half or so, but I know for sure that this evening I was not.
The building that I live in comes with a small parking lot that is shared by my landlords and a shopowner on the other side of the lot. My landlords have six spaces. One spot is mine. Another is theirs. Each of the two commercial tenants in my building gets two spots per. All six spots accounted for.
When I moved in, there was only one other tenant - a holdover from the prior owner who stayed an extra year as a favor to my landlords so they'd have a little rental income until they got some renovations done.
Parking was never an issue aside from shop patrons occasionally parking in our spots, and my landlords were having some difficulty renting out the now freed up rental space. Eventually however, they found tenants. A photographer and an event planner. And the problems began.
I'd come home to a full lot with not even a shop spot to try and idle in. I'd park in a metered spot or the now-paying garage across the street and ring the bell for the respective businesses to check and see if any of their patrons were attached to the offending vehicles, before even thinking about calling the landlord. According to my landlord, I went above and beyond. My landlord gave me the okay to just go ahead and call the tow guys if this happened again.
And happen again it did. And would over the course of the next year and a half.
Shortly after the first incident, the new tenants paid to have my landlords' parking signs replaced. The signs which previously read, "Reserved for 123 Street" [actual address is omitted for obvious reasons] was changed to "Reserved for 100-120 Street clients only."
A little backtrack: when the new tenants moved in, my building which had previously just been "123 Street" was split into three addresses, with three separate mailboxes: 100, 120 and 123 respectively. When I kinda joked about it with one of the new tenants, she laughed and said, "Oh yeah, we kinda forgot about that. Of course you park here." While skeptical of her sincerity, I let it slide. It wasn't really worth getting into it over, or so I thought.
For a few months, no more problems.
But then it happened again. By this time, I had each of their numbers, so I could call in case there was an issue. I called. No answer. I parked my car in a paying spot, got out, and rang the bell, and we went through the same farce as before. Fake apologies were given, cars were moved, I moved back into my spot.
Since we resolved it, I didn't call the landlord. Didn't want to be a nuisance.
Another few months passed without incident.
This time I called the landlord. By this point, I was annoyed. What can we do to try and prevent this? Landlord sent a reminder email to each of the tenants reminding them they only had two spaces apiece, and copied me in on this. What they chose to do amongst themselves (the business owners are friends) was up to them, but they were to make sure my spot wasn't used.
I told Landlord that I really didn't care if they used "my" spot (there is a spot I prefer over all others, but if that spot is taken, I just pull into one of the others) so long as a spot was open for me whenever I chose to come home (which sometimes occurs in the middle of the day). She told me I was being too generous, but I insisted.
Another few months go by and this happens again when I come home early. On. My. Birthday. I am beyond annoyed because I also have a migraine which was the real reason I came home early that day. I call them. No answer. I ring the bell. Everyone insists that they are only using their spots and don't recognize the offending cars. I tell them I am calling the tow company. Now I don't know if they thought I was joking, but what followed was actually kind of amusing, in retrospect. The tow guy comes and asks me which cars need to be taken. I admit I'm not really sure, but tell him that I understand he has a list from the landlords of permissible cars. He checks his list and points to a red car and starts to get ready to take it. I shake my head and tell him that I'm pretty sure that car belongs. He checks his list and says no, it's not. I shrug and say I'm pretty sure that car is on the list and head into my apartment. As I shut the door behind me, I hear a shriek from one of the second floor windows, "THAT'S MY CAR. I'M ON THE LIST!!" I text my landlord and warn her that she may be getting a call from an angry tenant. I later learn from my landlord that the car actually was not on the list because the tenant had provided an incorrect license plate number.
Again, another few months go by. Complacency sets in. I start seeing cars that don't belong, but as long as there's a spot for me, I don't complain.
A couple weeks ago, I come home to a full lot. I send Landlord a text but by the time I hear back from her, some idiot from the shop comes out and moves his illegally parked car. I don't question the other cars since really all I care about is having a place to park my car in the lot where I have a spot that I don't have to pay for. After all, it's included in my rent.
Today, I come home around 6:30 - well after regular business hours. Full lot. I'm pissed. I've had a rotten week, spent the last couple of days grieving with my oldest childhood friend over the unexpected loss of her father, pissed off at my adversaries at work (as an attorney, this is the natural state of things, but of late have been particularly pissed off at them) and starving. I've got takeout in my car because I didn't have the energy to cook. I call. No answer. I leave messages on voicemail but I don't get out of my car. I don't have the energy and quite frankly, embrace the fact that it's not my responsibility to go and ring their doorbell. I idle my car next to the building and text my landlord. She tells me to call the tow guys. So I do. I call again and leave messages giving them the heads up that I've called the tow guys. And I wait.
At this point, some people come frantically out of the building to move their cars. The first floor tenant who is the more difficult of the two, comes out and starts screaming at me. In the meantime, my takeout has been getting cold in my backseat. I've been festering and festering and when she has the audacity to say that common courtesy requires me to at least ring their doorbells to check if they have staff or clients, I lose it. Apparently, she had extra staff here tonight and yes it's past business hours, but it was rude of me to call the tow guys without checking first. I tell her I called. She claims she didn't get any phone call. I tell her noone answered so I left a voicemail on the only number I have for her. Did she happen to check the message after the office phone rang? She glares at me in silence, most likely because she has no response.
And the courtesy thing? I remind her that as a courtesy I let her use my spot when I'm not home even though they only have two spots. She claims that she has use of all the spots during the day. I tell her I'm pretty sure those are not the terms of her lease. Another silent glare. She accuses me of being lazy by sitting in my car and not coming to her door. I again remind her (and yes, I'm shouting at this point -- I don't give a flying fuck if her husband is a cop) that it's not my responsibility. Nor is it my responsibility to call her before I call the tow guys. And probably a few choice words at an extremely loud decibel.
She's shrieking about how this is ridiculous and I yell back that yes, it is ridiculous. We should not still be having these issues. She screams at me where are her clients supposed to park. I yell back at her that's not my problem. Her rental agreement gives her two spots and she should have thought of that when she chose to rent there. [I have some guilt as I'd hate for my landlords to be scrapping for new tenants though I understand from my landlords that these guys are consistently late on their rent], but at this point I have Absolutely. Had. It.
After a bit more screaming back and forth, I get a spot, and I finally enter my home, cold dinner in hand. I call the landlord and I start bawling. The stress of the funeral and work have gotten the better of me. My landlord is shocked because apparently she's never seen or heard me lose my composure (she has apparently not been in my presence when I'm hangry -- and to those of you who have, that's nothing compared to what transpired this evening) and that she's impressed I've lasted this long. That is some little consolation. The petty part of me tells her to tell them to forget about using my spot during the day. That way, if I come home and there's a car there, I know it doesn't belong and I can just call the tow guy. She thinks it's a great idea and doesn't know why I didn't demand it before.
I guess I always just figured that since we were all adults, we could find a way to live as neighbors. But at this point, it really has gone on too long, and they're never going to change, are they?