An open space. An actual open space in the parking lot of a store I needed to patronize! I could hardly believe my good fortune, especially considering the proximity, less than a mile or two, to the store entrance. It was going to be a bit tight, but considering the time of year, I was ecstatic to find the spot.

An open space. An actual open space in the parking lot of a store I needed to patronize! I could hardly believe my good fortune, especially considering the proximity, less than a mile or two, to the store entrance. It was going to be a bit tight, but considering the time of year, I was ecstatic to find the spot.


I nosed it in gently, then pulled out a bit. Then I slowly pulled forward, then back again. I checked the cars on either side and pulled forward one last ti—


HONK! Startled, I looked up to catch a flurry of disturbing sign language. By the fervid display, it was obvious the driver assumed I was leaving and had been waiting for me to vacate the parking space.


Ducking, I waited out the irate driver. I’d take road rage over holiday parking rage any day. I checked email and Facebook, shifting my eyes periodically to glance at the mirrors. Finally, the car disappeared to stalk another potentially exiting vehicle.


Gingerly, I opened my door a few inches to gauge the distance between it and the car parked to the left. That’s when I realized there was no way to open the door enough to disembark. I considered shimmying to the passenger door and exiting my car on that side.


There was precious little space on the other side as well. As I leaned over to assess the situation, I got an eyeful of the irate driver inching down the next aisle of parking. He noticed I was still in my car and was not happy.


I slunk down again, read a few tweets, and reviewed my calendar for the week. If I backed out while the irate driver was within view, surely he’d snap. There was no way to know how long he’d been circling for a space. The deep lines that etched out the frustration in his face suggested it to be at least a few days.


While I could use a few stocking stuffers, I was actually not out and about to find presents of any sort. Rather, we were out of milk and butter. We were also in need of fruit and cold cuts. And if I did not find something to prepare for dinner, we’d be stuck with take out yet again.


During the rest of the year, being stuck with take out is wonderful. It means my kitchen doesn’t get cluttered with dirty pots, pans, and dishes. It means everyone gets to choose whatever kind of food they want for supper. It means a relaxed evening of comfort food and television.


But during the holidays, it means another high-calorie, high-sodium meal. It means convincing Hubby to make the rounds through the cold, congested streets of town to pick up our food. It means more nondescript take-out containers cluttering up the fridge.


If I had to eat one more wilted side salad or cold French fry, I was going to gag. Therefore, I chose to brave the parking lots and make it inside a grocery store to buy food if it was the only thing I accomplished all day.


While I waited for the irate driver to work his way down a few more aisles, I scanned the surrounding area to assess other parking options. Any other time of year I was content to park a block or two away from an entrance where there were many open spaces. The extra walking is always a welcome addition to my erratic exercise regimen.


However, when people who hardly ever darken the doors of merchants are suddenly motivated to make purchases, gift lists subtly tucked into their bagged lunches, the parking space to store patron ratio becomes compromised. I knew how fortunate I was to find the space into which I had shimmied my car, especially considering the grocery store I hoped to access could be seen with the naked eye.


It was getting cold in my car. Already bundled in a coat, scarf, and hat, I considered slipping on my gloves. Doing so, however, would limit my access to the outside world. The touch screen on my smart phone does not work when the heat of my fingers is blocked by a cozy layer of knitted softness.


After one more quick check of social media, I dropped my phone into my handbag and grabbed my fingered gloves. That’s when I noticed a loud group of happy shoppers approaching the car to my left. They filled their trunk.


Would they get in the car and leave or dash off to another store? To my elation, they piled in and backed out. But what happened next was the true holiday miracle. Patiently waiting for their parking space was a slender, shiny motorcycle.


As soon as the cyclist had secured his hog, I giddily hopped out of my car, rushed to the store, and bought groceries. Even the fact that I was in line behind the frustrated driver who finally found a spot of his own couldn’t bring me down. The only thing better than a holiday parking miracle is a home cooked meal.


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Micki Bare is a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau and the Courier-Tribune in Asheboro, N.C., and the author of Thurston T. Turtle children’s books. She and her family live in North Carolina. Her e-mail address is mickibare@gmail.com.