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By Jordan W. Charness

“Schmo — slang, a foolish or stupid person, a dolt, an obnoxious person”

My brother-in-law, Elliott, married my wife’s younger sister. He has good taste in women: after all, we did both choose a lady from the same family to be our wives. But he and his family live in the United States and while we live in Canada and we have very different jobs, we lead reasonably similar lifestyles. Elliott does, however, have a wicked sense of humour. He also has his own pet peeves just like you or I do.

The last time we were in New Jersey visiting, we got to see his sense of humour and his pet peeves in action. One of his peeves is any driver who parks his or her car in an inappropriate fashion. Yes, I did write inappropriate; in order to bother Elliott a car does not have to be parked illegally…. just poorly and inappropriately.

Elliott decided that he was going to do something about it. Since his job is in no way related to law enforcement, he could not hand out tickets. Instead he decided to do the next best thing. At his own expense he printed up a bunch of business cards that have nothing printed on them except for the following statement:

“You parked like a schmo!”

Whenever Elliott sees a car that is parked in such a manner that Elliott feels is inappropriate, he hops out of his car and sticks one of these specially printed cards under the windshield wiper of the offending vehicle. He hopes that people will find this funny and at the same time will correct their poor parking habits.

I thought his creative approach was kind of amusing and it did get me thinking about all the ways people park that are both illegal and or inappropriate.

Just the other day, I saw a motorcycle that was parked near a corner but outside of the spaces reserved for parking for automobiles. In most cases the police will allow motorcycles to park wherever they fit as long as they do so legally. Not every jurisdiction requires motorcycles to park in a metered automobile parking place. Then again some do; here they don’t.

So why did that motorcyclist get a ticket? It didn’t take long to figure out that he had parked right next to the “no parking from here to the corner “sign that was posted about half a metre away from his bike. He was clearly in the No Parking zone, so he had parked like a “schmo.”

Another example of “schmo”-parking is a driver who intentionally takes up two parking places in a parking lot mall. In the mall, this may not be illegal, but it is certainly inappropriate. On the other hand, municipal parking lots often have bylaws to prohibit taking up two spaces and will issue a parking ticket for that type of “schmo” parking.

Then there are those who park with one or two wheels up on the sidewalk while others park so far away from the sidewalk that they actually stick out into traffic. “Schmo schmo schmo!”

Parking in front of crosswalks, wheelchair access ramps, fire hydrants, driveways, and in fire lanes are all common examples of “schmo”-parking that will likely get you a ticket.

Parking so close to the car ahead of you that the driver will not be able to get out without using a shoehorn probably won’t get you ticketed but will certainly earn you the enmity of the person you’ve blocked in.

If you think about it, there are probably hundreds of ways you can park like a “schmo.” Sometimes you’ll get a big fat ticket. And other times, if Elliott is anywhere in the vicinity you may just get your very own business card advising you that “you parked like a schmo!”

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