Changing Hawaii

By Diane Yukihiro Chang

Friday, November 26, 1999

Keeping cool while
looking for parking

NOW that the remnants of the Thanksgiving bird are bubbling away in the jook, that's the signal: It's officially, finally, the most wonderful time of the year. And also the most stressful.

Let's all go Christmas shopping! Ho, ho, ho, ho -- hold on, brah. That's my parking space.

Oh, no. The spirit of aloha seems to fade just a bit whenever there's a shortage of stalls at the malls.

I've had my own little run-ins with aspiring space interlopers, and am still embarrassed about them to this day.

Once, I drove over to the video store to return a rental and browse the new releases. After circling the lot too many times, AHA!, I spotted someone walking toward her car.

I put the trusty sedan in reverse and dutifully flicked on the turn signal. Coincidentally, the driver of another vehicle approaching from the opposite direction did the same.

Maybe it's because the other driver was a young male, I'm not sure. But I managed to talk myself into a fine fit of rage: "What the...who does this guy think he is...just because I'm a woman does he...?"

That did it. The territorial instincts of this usually mild-mannered mommy from Makiki were suddenly inflamed.

Through my windshield, I gesticulated wildly but clearly to the other driver: That-Space-Is-Mine.

He shook his head emphatically: No-Way-Lady.

Meanwhile, the third party in this whole public drama -- the poor wahine who had done her shopping and was trying to vacate the stall -- couldn't move since neither vulture would budge.

In my younger days, I might have acquiesced and retreated. But when you're a high-strung fortysomething experiencing the early signs of perimenopause, and already cranky from living through a decade-long recession, watch out.

Go ahead, punk. Make my day.

Finally, I threw open the door of my chariot, leaped out and ran over to the other hard-headed motorist, bellowing like Sgt. Vince Carter yelling at Pvt. Gomer Pyle: "Move this car right now. You hear me, mister? Move it! Move it! Move it!"

The guy was so shocked or scared or both that he backed up and zoomed away. Yippee! I had won!

Well, not really. I had lost -- my temper, my good manners and the mindset that we're all members of an extended ohana on this island rock. How barbaric of me.

It's a little late now, but sorry, sir. Please accept this apology and promise that it will never happen again. Nobody deserves to be the target of a yelling fit. To what levels of denigration have we sunk?

SINCE then, I've changed my philosophy about trolling for parking. On my way to the shopping center, I brace for the worst. Call it reverse psychology.

En route, I tell myself that I probably WON'T find a space. Then, if I don't, I'm not disappointed. But if I do luck out, I'm ecstatically happy. See how it works?

Now I realize how fortunate I am that my nemesis in that parking lot incident didn't whip out a firearm from the glove compartment and start blasting away.

Hey, you can always find another empty stall. But try stopping a bullet.

Can you believe that the gun proponents in this town want concealed-carrying permits to be issued on a more generous basis? Sheesh. Then we'd be shooting each other for a lousy parking space. Or less.

Diane Yukihiro Chang's column runs Monday and Friday.
She can be reached by phone at 525-8607, via e-mail at, or by fax at 523-7863.

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