We’ve all been aggravated at some time by something we acknowledge as trivial. We tell ourselves that we shouldn’t get upset over something that in the grand scheme of things is so insignificant. But because it goes against the core of who we are – the attitudes and values that are at the centre of our personalities, we essentially don’t want to overlook an incident that feels like an act of blatant disrespect.
At the back of our shop we have 3 car parking spaces. They don’t constitute a specifically designed and built car park, but we’re on a corner and by driving slightly on the nature-strip and footpath, the single crossover allows access to all three. We usually have a vehicle parked in the hardest to access spot and the other two are left for customers. Our kitchen window looks out onto the side street and the carpark.
We weren’t specifically looking for premises with parking but it has been very handy. If you come some distance to visit us, you need to be able to park. However, way too often, members of the general public also decide it’s very handy, park their car (always in the best spot) and disappear for the day.
We hadn’t been in possession of the property very long at all before a car appeared and stayed for days. Eventually I rang the local police who traced the owner. The owner explained that she’d been driving to the airport to go on a holiday, had a small accident and left the car. This sounded very strange as the car seemed undamaged.
A ute appeared which turned out to be the landlord who was working next door. He did know his legal rights (or otherwise), said he knew he was completely in the wrong, apologised profusely, apology accepted and that was the end of the matter.
We put signs up specifying that the parking spots are for the use of Cup&Mug customers. When I ordered these signs I asked for “Customer Parking” but to my chagrin, received “Customers Parking”. Regardless, the message is still the same.
We’re closed on Monday and Tuesday but every Tuesday afternoon when one of us arrived to do some work there would be a particular car parked in the “good” spot. One day as I was leaving, the owner of the car was also about to leave. We offer after hours pottery sales by appointment, so I disingenuously asked if she was wanting to buy some pottery. She replied that she was parked there because she knew we aren’t open on Monday or Tuesday and drove off.
Very recently a car was parked in the “good” spot from before 9am. In the early afternoon I put a note on the windscreen. The note was to the effect that this is not a public car park, rather it is for the exclusive use of customers shopping at The Cup&Mug and we would appreciate it if they would respect this in future.
I just happened to see the person return to their car later in the afternoon and decided to go and speak to them. The gentleman concerned was quite defensive, saying that he is a customer of mine. He reminded me that he had just moved to the area and had come last week for a drink. He said he had intended to come regularly but now doesn’t feel welcome and told me that business needs to be a two- way relationship.
What? A $3.80 cup of soy latte entitles you to use one of our scare parking spots whenever you feel like it (of course I didn’t actually say that, just thought it). I did point out that by his parking there, customers carrying pottery had to walk further. He said he hadn’t realised that and we parted on very sour terms.
The parking episode that takes the cake happened on a recent Tuesday. When I arrived with supplies for the shop, I was confronted by this view of the car park. The large vehicle doesn’t even fit without over-hanging the entire footpath.
It is easy be annoyed by these incidents which are really no more than opportunistic displays of bad manners and to take for granted the vast majority of people who are courteous and use the carpark as it is intended.
We had one reasonably frequent customer ask if he could leave his car in the car park for a few hours while he went to the city on the tram. Of course we said that’s fine.
We’ve had people say as they’re leaving the shop that they’re just going for a walk in the park before going home and is it ok to leave their car where it is? Of course it is.
I recently noticed a customer who had parked in the car park while in The Cup&Mug, then moved his car to the street and walked over to the park with his son. How thoughtful of others was that?
It is usually seemingly small differences in values and attitudes encountered at very close range that annoy us most. A much bigger issue which we observe as an outsider is a lot easier to dismiss. It is easy to tell ourselves, we’re not rude, racist, judgemental, or intolerant when we’re not in direct conflict, when we’re looking on from a distance. But when we’re brought nose-to-nose with an attitude we think is wrong and disrespects us it is much harder to turn the other cheek. In fact, there are times when we ignore something that seems small and we live to regret this. It grows into something bigger and we wish we’d nipped it in the bud.
You’ve heard us say it before, but we’re continually surprised by the unexpected things that pop into the life of a shop-keeper.
The Cup and Mug
The adventures of a small business (more interesting than we would have ever guessed!)