I didn’t recognize the car, so I figured it had to be a guest, and not a tenant.
“I bet he tries to park in my assigned space,” I said to myself, as I followed the car through the lot. “I just know it. Everyone tries to park in my assigned space. The cable guy, the electric guy, the escort who spends Friday nights with Downstairs Neighbor Dave. Look! He’s barreling past all of these available guest parking spaces so he can be closer to the buildings – the jerk!”
As if following a script, the car slowed down and turned into my assigned space.
I pulled behind it and peeped the horn. A young man climbed out of the car and looked at me, frowning.
“Hey!” I said, rolling down the window. “You’re in my space!”
The man continued to frown. “I’m sorry?”
“You got to move, pal. You’re in my assigned space!”
The man shrugged. “No. I’m not moving my car.”
He opened the back door and started rifling through some junk sitting in the backseat.
“Excuse me?” I climbed out of my car and approached him. “Buddy, you’re in my space. This is my space!”
The man kept his back turned as he searched for something in the backseat. “It’s not your space; it’s mine.”
“How can you say that?” I asked.
“Because I got here first. First come, first served. It’s a rule. Don’t you know the rule?”
“That rule doesn’t apply because it’s my space! I’m a tenant, and this is the space they assigned to me.”
“But how do you know it’s your space? It looks like all the other spaces.” The man pulled a sweatshirt out of the car and turned around to face me.
“It doesn’t look anything like the other spaces!” I said. “The resident spaces have white lines, and the guest spaces have yellow. Plus, the resident spaces are numbered, and I’m No. 28. That’s how I know it’s my space: because it’s clearly marked No. 28.”
“So is that also the number of your apartment?” the man asked, pulling on his sweatshirt. “No. 28?”
“No. My apartment is No. 256.”
“Then why is your space No. 28? Shouldn’t your apartment number match your parking-space number?”
“I just live here,” I said. “I don’t assign the numbers.”
The man crossed his arms. “But you agree it’s a legitimate question?”
“I do find the inconsistent numbering between the apartments and the parking spaces confusing, yes. But I imagine they do that so it’s not obvious which cars belong to which apartments. You know, for security.”
“Is that the complex’s stated policy, or are you just making a colossal assumption?”
“Assumption or policy, the indisputable fact is that you’re in my space!”
“But how can I know that for sure?” the man said. “Try to see it from my perspective. You’re just some guy who appeared out of nowhere and started whining to me about a parking space.”
“I didn’t think I was whining, exactly,” I said.
“I have no idea who you are or if you’re really a tenant. You’ve offered no evidence to link yourself to apartment 256 or to parking space 28. For all I know, you’ve concocted this elaborate story to con me out of a decent space!”
“Why would I try to con you out of a space?” I asked, spitting.
“That’s what I want to know,” the guy said. “There are plenty of empty yellow spaces down there. You don’t have to take mine.”
“The yellow spaces are for guests, and I’m a tenant!” I said.
“You continue to make that unsubstantiated assertion, but I’ve yet to see proof.”
“I don’t have to provide proof! You’re in my space!”
“The burden of proof falls on the accuser. And you’re accusing me of being a space-stealer.”
“That’s because you are a space-stealer! That’s my space. I know because it has white lines and it’s No. 28.”
“How am I supposed to believe that when you’ve shown me no evidence of your tenancy?”
“All right, here.” I reached into my pocket and dug out my keys, thrusting them at him. “See? You happy?”
The man squinted. “It looks like a Super Mario keychain to me.”
“Not that! The key! The gold key! See how it says the number 256? That’s my apartment key.”
“That’s the key to apartment 256?”
“Yes! Do you want to watch me unlock the door?”
“But what will that prove?” the man asked. “So you have a key that unlocks apartment 256. So what? That still doesn’t link you to parking space 28.”
I stared at him. “You’re kidding, right?”
“I’d believe you if this parking space was 256. At least then you’d have a tangible link between the apartment and the space. But as it stands, you’ve still provided no proof of a connection.”
“There doesn’t have to be a connection! The apartment complex designed the numbering system!”
“So now you’re quoting apartment-complex policy?”
“Look,” I said, “I know this is my space because 28 is the age Jim Morrison died. I was a huge fan of The Doors growing up, so that’s how I remember the space. Jim Morrison died at 28, and I park in space 28.”
“Well, that’s interesting,” the man said, “because Jim Morrison didn’t die at age 28. He died at 27.”
“That’s preposterous,” I said.
“Look it up. Jim Morrison is in the group of musicians who died at 27. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Brian Jones, the guy from Canned Heat. It’s called the 27 Club because they all died at 27.”
I narrowed my eyes. “You’ll stop at nothing to steal my space, won’t you?”
“Look it up. It’s a fact. You’re the one who’s weaving an intricate tapestry of falsehoods in a vain attempt to abscond with my space.”
“Your space? I live here!”
“You have a key that says 256. It may even open the door to apartment 256. But beyond that, you’ve established no credible ownership over space 28. In fact, for such a self-professed Doors fan, you had the details about Jim Morrison’s death all wrong.”
“I could have sworn he died at 28,” I said.
“That was Heath Ledger. You’re probably thinking of him.”
I glared. “Why would I confuse Jim Morrison with Heath Ledger? One’s a musician and one’s an actor, and they were from two different generations.”
“Beats me. Why would you try to steal my rightful parking space when there are plenty of empty yellow spaces down there?”
I balled my hands into fists. “If you don’t get out of my space right now, you miserable jerk, you’re going to become a member of the 27 Club.”
The man crossed his arms and grinned. “Too late. I’m 28.”