The other day I was running some errands and had to stop by this particular department store—which shall remain unnamed for reasons that will soon become clear—when to my chagrin, I found myself absolutely dumbfounded because I could not find any parking. (Side note: dumbfounded is an interesting word… like, does it mean that I was found to be dumb or that I found something dumb or that dumb was founded upon like when our nation was founded upon certain principles or whatever your social studies teacher was trying to tell you, but you weren’t listening?)
But here’s the thing, it’s not that I couldn’t find parking for lack of open lot spaces. At that time of the day, the parking lot was practically empty. The reason I couldn’t find a place to park is because nearly all of the parking spaces were reserved for specific customers. Now, obviously you have your accessibility parking for persons with disabilities. That’s standard. And then sometimes you also have reserved parking for certain VIP members or whatever. Then also, the pandemic has increasingly introduced this new category of parking for curbside service and pickup orders.
But this unique snowflake of a parking lot, in addition to the previous ones mentioned, also had “special” reserve parking placards for Law Enforcement, Emergency Service Personnel, Veterans, Active-Duty Service Members, Family of Touring Military Volunteers, Expecting Mothers, Nursing Mothers, Grandmothers of Mothers, Military Mothers, Motorcyclists, Commercial Truck Drivers, Members with Therapeutic Animals, Members with Small Chihuahuas in Handbags, Taco Trucks, Clydesdales, and Mothers of Expecting Emergency Veterans on Therapeutic Motorcycles Eating Tacos. Okay, okay, so maybe some of those were exaggerations and/or completely fabricated. But at least a half dozen of those parking designations are totally legit.
And this all reminded me of the Pixar movie that we recently watched with our kids: The Incredibles (2004 [wow, was this movie really back in 2004‽). One of the themes of the film revolves around the idea of uniqueness and individuality versus equality and uniformity. Early on in the movie, the mother Elastigirl reassures her son, Dash that “Everyone is special.” He sullenly responds, “That’s just another way of saying no one is.” Dash has super speed and wants to play sports, but his parents won’t allow him because he’ll stand out too much. Later on, towards the climax, the antagonist, Syndrome reveals his ultimate plot to make everyone into supers with his technology: “And when everyone’s super, no one will be (insert maniacal laugh).”
Now, I’m not here to debate the merits of a society built upon meritocracy and rugged individualism. Nevertheless, when all of the parking spaces are specially reserved spots, then none of the parking spaces are special. And when none of the parking spaces are special because all of them are, then that means that I must not be very special because there’s no place for me to park. Or maybe that means I’m the most special little boy of all!
…But I still don’t have any place to park…