Along for the Rye’d

By Annabel Monaghan

If I can help it, I don’t drive to the CVS in town. I’ve had enough altercations in that parking lot, real and imagined, to scare me away forever. I’ve been yelled at, honked at, given the evil eye. A friend of mine was criticized by a stranger, for showing too much cleavage in that parking lot. I’d be willing to say it’s our town’s spiritual black hole.

One time I knocked my wallet into the backseat with my elbow as I was parking, so I had to get out and open the door to the backseat to retrieve it. Sue me. Or, if you prefer, you can be like the lady who was waiting to park in the spot next to mine and just shout for me to get the *expletive* out of the way. Once she’d parked, she went on to explain that I was taking too darn long shutting my car door. I told her about the errant wallet and apologized for exceeding the appropriate amount of time for a door to be open next to an available parking spot. She stormed off.

The funny thing is that in this parking lot, I kind of get it. The CVS parking lot induces madness. First of all, it’s too narrow. The calmest driver has a hard time backing out and completing a turn before hitting the row of cars behind her. Secondly, no one at the CVS is at her calmest. Most people in the CVS parking lot have the flu, a kid with lice, or, worse, a baby. If you’re shopping for an ace bandage or Excedrin Migraine, you’re not having the best day. Even the lady picking up the jumbo-sized bag of Peanut M&Ms is probably nursing some kind of emotional wound. And they no longer sell cigarettes.

The lady in the greeting card aisle is completely unhinged, because she knows that soon she has to cross the street to the post office to mail it. It’s her mother-in-law’s birthday and she’s a day behind. She has no choice. She leaves CVS like a criminal, looking left and right to make sure the coast is clear. Someone with a migraine or lice is going to pop out and accuse her of using the CVS parking lot for post office parking, which is a quiet, victimless crime that will get you towed. As she hops the parking lot wall to freedom, she brandishes her CVS purchase across her chest as evidence that she’s bought something.

So I walk.

Since a Whole Foods has opened in Port Chester, I’ve been studying the intensity level of that parking lot. It’s as poorly designed at the CVS lot. It’s too narrow to easily back up without a collision, with the added handicap of having only two points of entry, which happen to also be the points of exit. People pulling into the lot are in immediate, head-on conflict with the people pulling out. I’m sure an engineer and a line painter could fix this lot faster than you can say ‘wild Atlantic salmon,’ but why bother? No one seems to mind.

In fact, the people in the Whole Foods parking lot are happy to wait. They’re happy to back up out of the entrance/exit and wait for you to settle comfortably into your parking spot and check your emails. People who are about to pay $15 for two heads of broccoli don’t sweat the small stuff. They’re on their way into the happiest place on earth, where chickens are free-range and trans fats are abolished. Someone even sent me a photo of Justin Timberlake browsing the pasta aisle at Whole Foods. That’s how good it is.

This bliss can also be found in the Jerry’s Post Road Market parking lot, a lot that is similarly treacherous and too small for the throngs of people who are hooked on chicken cutlet sandwiches. People will happily stop traffic in the middle of Boston Post Road and wait for a spot to open up. Once they’ve turned in, they patiently adjust their cars in impossible ways to allow you a smooth exit. Take your time. The nice people inside are preparing lunch for their whole family. It’s possible that the problem has nothing to do with the parking lots at all.