One afternoon in the middle of August, I payed a visit to a dear friend who resides in Allentown. Parking was scarce as it was lunchtime but I managed to find a vacant spot on a tree-lined street near the intersection of Allen and Elmwood. It seemed like a perfectly decent parking spot and I didn’t notice any signs stating it was a no parking zone.
However, upon returning to my vehicle two hours later, I nearly fainted at the sight of it. Obscenities has been written all over the body in black permanent marker, in addition to a bold statement about the car being parked in front of a private residence. The culprit(s) also doused the car in chocolate syrup, which proceeded to melt in the blazing summer sun.
The sight was disturbing and frankly unnerving. I couldn’t believe someone took the time to do this, especially in broad daylight during lunch rush hour. Wouldn’t it be more productive to leave a note on the windshield stating the case (i.e. “Please don’t park here ever again”)? I thought about going to the police but it seemed pointless as they didn’t seem to be anywhere in sight and clearly missed the action. After spending three hours at the dealership waiting to find out if the entire body of my car would have to be stripped and repainted due to the scratches and marker, I’m ready to take action. Advice, anyone?
Sympathy for the Devil says: Did your dear friend happen to excuse herself for 15 minutes during your visit? Is it possible she was sending you a message that she’s afraid to deliver in person? Seriously—this sounds like a targeted attack.
If that’s not the case, then your antagonist’s critique was maybe a bit overboard and ruthless, but hardly surprising. The summer heat wears people’s patience, and parking is scarce in the city, especially along the busy, narrow, residential streets of Allentown. People do become fiercely territorial. In this regard, Buffalo is just like those more prosperous cities it often seeks to emulate. On Pittsburgh’s South Side, for example, people block off parking spaces on the street with chairs. Woe betide the stranger to South Side customs who moves a chair marking a parking spot.
Even in the genteel Elmwood Village, parking on residential streets can be fraught. Once I came out my front door to find my neighbor gleefully letting the air out of my tires. “This is my spot,” she said, grinning. I understood at once, and we’ve been friends ever since.
You’re right that the police will offer you no recourse. (Though it may be worth asking them if the defacing was caught on one of the vaunted blue-light cameras: Video of the culprits spraying the car with chocolate syrup would be precious on YouTube.) Your best bet was to shrug it off, take the vehicle to a do-it-yourself car wash, invest three dollars in quarters, and hone the story into a cocktail party anecdote. You might want to save the tale for suburban poolsides, though. You may not find a lot of sympathetic ears in Allentown, whose natives grit their teeth day and night as they watch outlanders circling the blocks on which they live, looking for a place to wedge in their SUVs.
The Avenger says: Well, you know where the villains live. You were parked directly in front of their house.
I suggest you begin with a little opposition research: Check out the names on the mailbox or mailboxes. Check the Erie County Clerk’s Website and find out who owns the property. Stake out the house and see who parks most frequently in the spot that you thought was so safe. Track these people down—find out, if you can, where they work and where they play.
Once you know the enemy, a course of vengeance should become clear. Maybe you’ll treat their car they way they treated yours—but at their office. Maybe you’ll Gorilla-tape a dead fish in the driver’s side front wheel well. Who knows? Maybe you’ll put a bottle of Bosco in their mailbox and set fire to it.
Be bold. Don’t let this victimless crime go unanswered.
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