Hey, Mama / by Courtney Mehlhaff

My condo unit has an assigned, numbered parking space in a surface lot, which is naturally where I tried to put my car when I got home late the other night.

As I got closer, however, I saw that it was already occupied. And not only had this SUV blocked my spot, but it had also pulled halfway into the spot across from me.

"What a dick!" I thought, assuming it was a drunken mistake. I drove back out to park on the street, which wasn't the biggest deal in the world, but it did require me to walk alone to the safety of my building. So I decided to alert the driver to their error.

I did not immediately call a tow truck, and I especially did not (as was once done to me) park my car directly behind the person for several hours, in addition to writing a nasty note on an impossible-to-remove window sticker. Because I'm not an asshole.

I simply stopped in the lobby and grabbed a handy, pre-printed warning notice. I went back out to the lot and was just slipping the paper under a windshield wiper when the driver's side window rolled down.

Ladies and gentlemen, there was almost pee.

I had no idea anyone was in the car, but I suddenly heard, "Hey mama, what you want?"

What I wanted was to not hear a disembodied voice coming from the darkness of a strange vehicle, although if it was going to say anything, I can't imagine a better question.

"AHHH!" I said, after restarting my heart. "You're in my spot."

"I just pulled in here to talk to my mom . . . Yo! What'd you put on my car?"

"It's just a courtesy notice that you're parked in an assigned space."

"Oh, I can move. You want me to move?"

"Yes, that'd be great," I said, and he assured me it was no problem.

And weirdly, I kind of felt like I should wave at him as he left. Because I think we shared a real moment of mild terror together that night -- him of being ticketed, me of being murdered -- and that can only bring two people closer, right?