I’m not a particularly spiritual person, and I don’t have any formal religious commitments. Except for one: I am devoted to the Parking Gods.
The Parking Gods are rarely recognized, let alone worshipped, even though they play a profound role in our daily life. The Parking Gods determine whether you get that convenient, roomy and miraculously free spot right in front of the dry cleaners, or conversely, need to trek three blocks from the nearest lot with an armful of dirty shirts. They make the difference between being on time for your lunch meeting and being five minutes late. When they’re feeling merciful, they even let you keep your pocket change.
I have been a devoted worshipper for decades, and I have been rewarded with extraordinary good fortune when it comes to street parking. If you think this seems like a small thing, then you are not worthy of the gods I worship.
But if you recognize that an abundance of good parking opportunities is indeed worthy of praise and gratitude, then parking theism may be the religion for you. While it is a religion without written scripture, here is what I have learned about the Parking Gods through my years of devotion.
Show your faith. The most fundamental act of devotion is to show your faith by giving the Parking Gods the opportunity to provide you with the perfect space. Don’t park a block away until you have driven past your destination, where a devotee may discover an available parking space right in front of the shop or office you are visiting.
Don’t be greedy. While you should always give the Parking Gods a chance to give you an amazing space, calibrate your definition of amazing to your actual circumstances. If you’re looking for a downtown parking spot at rush hour, and you find a spot two blocks from your destination, recognize that, in context, this is tremendous gift. Take it and give thanks.
Be worthy of divine attention. The Parking Gods do not waste their time on devotees who can’t get a compact car into a double-length parking space. Hone your parking craft with a precise method, rigorous practice and an open-hearted belief that the Gods will not give you a space you cannot fit into. When you can smoothly park your mini-van in a parking space that provides less than 12" of room on either side, and speedily execute that park in rush hour traffic with a line-up of cars behind you, then you will be worthy of your Gods.
Raise your children in the faith. My children have been raised as believers. Consequently, when we are in the car, they join me in the pursuit of the perfect space, and keep their sharp little eyes open for the most convenient parking possible. When we get a great space, they always give thanks to the Parking Gods.
Live in the right city. The Parking Gods do not bring their benevolence to every jurisdiction. If you wish to form a close and loving relationship with the Parking Gods, you must live in a city or town where you may reasonably expect to feel their presence. The Parking Gods do not operate in New York City.
Sacrifice when called. The Parking Gods do not favor those who expect things to be easy. Sometimes they will give you the perfect spot, but it will be on the opposite side of the street, with four lanes of traffic between you. You will be expected to show your devotion by hovering until you can execute a four-lane U-turn to claim the space the Gods have bestowed upon you. If you choose to circle the block instead, do not be surprised if the Gods give your space to someone else. If they hold it for you, give thanks.
Don’t be a sheep. The Gods do not favor the meek and the blind. Just because nobody is parked in that spot does not mean it is not a legal parking spot. Read the signs and the hours on any empty space, and you may find that the Gods have favored you with a this-couldn’t-possibly-be-a-free-space-this-close-to-downtown-OMG-it-is! kind of space.
Celebrate them. Honor your gods by posting about your most staggering parking finds on your preferred social networks. The Gods appreciate your attention, but also reward discretion when sharing the specific location of amazing free parking spots.
Don’t take their name in vain. The Parking Gods do not appreciate mockery. I am conscious that I am putting my relationship with them at risk by writing about them on the Interwebs. I hope they will receive this post in the spirit of honor and appreciation with which it is intended.