This week I made two trips to the supermarket. On the first visit, I was sitting in my car with the three kids when I noticed a young guy pull up in the spot beside me. He ignored the large 'Parent and child parking' sign with a buggy icon on it directly in front of him as he hopped out of his car and headed off.
No sooner had he gone than the parking spot in front of mine became vacant by a departing family.
Seconds later a nippy parker deftly manoeuvred his VW Golf into the empty family space before hopping out of his car and strutting off into Tesco.
Both offenders were twentysomething males who clearly need lessons in social conscience and common courtesy as well as, perhaps, reading.
Two days later, I drove to Aldi, where I found all of their parent-and-baby parking spots occupied. These doorside spaces are in high demand as shoppers have to return their trolley inside the store after unloading it, which can prove quite an inconvenience with small kids, unless you're inclined to leave them alone in the car.
After parking a little further away than I'd hoped, I watched a lady pull out of the parent space right by the shop door. She saw me glaring at her, my two-year-old in my arms and a bunch of shopping bags hooked over my wrist. I'm not sure if her smile was by way of an apology, but it did nothing to wipe the scowl off my face.
Supermarkets created family parking bays to make the shopping trip as pain-free as possible for parents. The spaces are near shop entrances for convenience and safety -- it prevents the need for small kids to walk behind lines of parked cars.
They are also extra wide, allowing room for buggies and doors to be fully opened while strapping in infants. The funny thing is that it's not just selfish singletons that nab these prime parking spots. Parents with car seats, but no child on board, often commandeer them without a thought in the world.
It's baffling to think they'd happily force a parent with small kids into a narrow spot with a longer walk -- because they've given birth themselves.
Tesco has even spelled it out on their large signs "Reserved for children under 5 so that parents have room for pushchairs". Yet it does little to deter selfish parents with older kids, or worse, teenagers, from taking the spots for themselves.
Don't they remember the days when they wrestled with buggies and car seats? Did they never have to squeeze an infant into a half-opened door because the person beside them was badly parked? Do they not notice the woman with small kids shepherding them to the far side of the car park as they slink off to their misappropriated space?
I can understand why a twentysomething who still thinks the world revolves around him would park in these designated spots, but I'll never figure out why a parent would take the priority spot when they don't need it.
Shopping with young kids can be a hugely stressful task and it beggars belief that another parent would add to someone's stress by selfish behaviour.
You'd imagine that parents should watch each other's backs, but, sadly, that's not always the case.