The ethics of "saving" a parking place

So my wife and I arrive at the same shopping center in separate vehicles (I’d just picked mine up from the dealership, where it had been for repairs, and then we were going to do some shopping). The parking lot was very crowded. I find a place to park and walk towards the building. I spot my wife still behind the wheel of the family minivan, two rows away, and see an empty parking space even closer to the building. I catch her eye and point to the parking space. She nods. I walk to the parking space and see a little old lady trying to turn around just short of the space; it’s clear she doesn’t want it. An SUV behind her is waiting for the lady to move. I stand in the parking space and wait for the Mrs. to arrive.

The little old lady finally gets turned around and drives away. The guy in the SUV pulls closer and puts on his turn signal, obviously intending to turn in. I politely say that I’m saving the space for my wife. He says, somewhat crossly, that “You can’t do that.” I say I can, and am, as I was there first. He says, “I’m not going anywhere. I’ll just wait for you to leave.” I say, pleasantly, that I’m not moving either (I don’t tell him that, by this point, my wife’s van is directly behind him). He glares at me; I placidly look back at him. After about 30 seconds and some additional grumbling, he drives off. I step aside and my wife pulls into the parking space.

Who was right?

I don’t believe in saving spaces. Parking spaces are for cars, not people.

That’s absurd. Parking in a crowed lot is “first come first served” and always has been. “Saving” a space for someone is incredibly obnoxious behavior. You’re luck he wasn’t a violent person as doing that would really set some people off ,and I doubt would have gotten much sympathy from the police if you’d gotten injured as result.

What in the world makes you think doing something that assholish is OK?Seriously.

I gotta say, Elendil, that would really have pissed me off if you’d done that to me. Parking lots, like many other public spaces, operate according to conventions and rules that make them run smoothly. You violated those conventions for personal gain (well, for gain for your wife). That’s unethical. Don’t do that!


The guy in the SUV.

Not cool. Parking spots are for cars, not people. I had a friend who once offered to stand in a spot to hold an open parking spot on the street. I told her not to bother. If someone pulled that shit on me, they’d get an earful if not more.

SUV guy was incredibly cool. He could have been a real asshole about it, and I’d probably side with him on that as well.


You were way way wrong. The arrogance of some folks!

As others have said, parking places are for cars. First come first served.

I personally feel you should have been shot on sight, not that I am in any way condoning that, nor would I ever do that, unless a law was passed to allow that, which I do support such a law.

Did you perhaps notice any key scratches in your minivan?

Do you really want to subject your wife to such behavior?

(again no threat against the OP, or anyone on this board)

Gotta agree with the sense of the meeting here. (A), it’s kind of unfair to take advantage of your mobility as a pedestrian to sneak into a space that the car that was already waiting for the space was temporarily unable to reach.

(B), although this is more of a safety issue than an ethics one, pedestrians should not be hanging around in parking spaces, especially in crowded parking lots. Once you’ve parked, get out of the car as efficiently as you can and proceed to a sidewalk or other pedestrian territory as safely and rapidly as you can.

Living in Washington, DC, I see this behavior exhbited from time to time. So, I asked a cop I know if it was at all legal for a pedestrian to “save a space” for a driver.

The answer, as you might have guessed, is no.

Hmm, this being GD, maybe I should elaborate on my post above.

It’s not that it’s specifically illegal for a pedestrian to save a space for an automobile, it’s that the law in DC doesn’t allow for anyone to have a parking space saved for them, except if they apply 3 days in advance, get approved, and then post the proper signs.

So yeah, you were not only ethically wrong, but you were almost certainly wrong legally as well.

Hmm. :dubious:

This sounds awfully lot like a well publicized incident that happened HERE in Milwaukee.

Answer: both people are assholes.

Elendil’s Heir, I like to think of you as a friend, but I really think you were in the wrong in this case. You are also lucky the guy in the SUV was not some idiot that got out of his vehicle and proceeded to start a fight with you.

I cannot think of any reason why you had a self-determined right to hold a parking spot and it would seem very likely to cause grief and possible mayhem for little gain. I suspect I would have called you a few choice names if I had no kids in the car and none were around.

Have you done this before or seen other do this? I have actually never seen this happen anywhere but NYC. Never in NJ or anywhere else I have lived or visited.

I think the SUV driver did a remarkable job of keeping his cool and you were in the wrong.


Gotta agree wiht the rest of the folks here-- that’s asshole behavior clear and simple. Before I came into this thread, I would never have conceived that the OP ould try to defend that practice instead of condemning it. And I wouldn’t have let you get away with that behavior IRL either.

I could understand if you were saving a stall adjacent to your own, and your wife or a family member is wheelchair-bound, and out of a desire to not scratch or ding someone else’s car with the bulky wheelchair, you prefer to park next to one another. Otherwise, sorry, you were being selfish. And foolish, imo, for placing yourself in a vehicle’s path.

Sorry, in general- and in your specific situation- no saving.

But, if you had very nicely explained the whole story and said your wife wanted to park next to you, then they guy can be gracious. But just saying “I am saving this spot”- **hell **no. You must explain fully, and ask them if they don;t mind. Politely- explaining that “Of course, it’s “first come, first served” normally, but would you mind if my my wife got this spot as she’d like to park next to me as she feels safer that way?”

That way you’re telling that guy he does have the right to the spot and are asking him if he’ll give it up.

Gotta agree dude. You were totally wrong. First, if this happened this weekend, you were wrong to take two cars to the shop. Second, you should’ve let the guy have the spot.

Is this for real? I would have harsher words for you more so then the people mentioned in this OP. This is unfathomable.

Where I work, there is a ‘public’ parking area that is always full of gym-people and shoppers and stuff, so parking places for my workmates are at a premium. The other day, one of my coworkers spied a vacant spot, and as her car was parked down the street in a 1 hour zone, she asked me to stand in the ‘spot’ in the carpark and save it until she was able to drive down to get it herself.

I laughed at her.

You were wrong, the other driver was right, and you are damned lucky you didn’t get razzed out about it more seriously.