Thursday, July 2, 2015

Parking in Iceland: A Primer

I like to consider myself a reasonably well-traveled lady. I have been fortunate to enjoy a fair few places in my three decades on this earth. I have seen and experienced a range of languages, cultures, food, celebrations, music, dancing, and the daily grind from South East Asia to Europe, to Saharan Africa, and the Pacific Islands.

My point in bringing this up is not to brag or rub it in your face how lucky I am to have seen all these amazing places, but rather to lend myself credibility in your that you will believe me when I tell you that in all my relatively vast globe trotting adventures, I have never seen more atrocious parking than in my dear adopted nation of Iceland.

When I lived in Seattle, seeing a parking guard writing a ticket used to fill me with a sense of compassion mixed with a twinge of sadness. I would think, "Oh, that poor guy. Getting a ticket sucks! He's probably right around the corner, and he's like five minutes over the meter, and that mean cop is giving him a ticket. Shitty luck."

It wasn't until moving to Iceland when the sight of a parking guard writing a ticket put a smile on my face. Now it makes me gitty. It's exhilarating. A thrill. I want to go up and shake the ticket writer's hand and give him a pat on  the back. "Keep up the good work, buddy! You're doing great!"

Icelanders follow their own rules about parking. I have taken the liberty of writing them down for you, so you may better understand the ways and customs of our people.

Here we see our Prime Minister, Sigmundur Davið Gunnlaugsson, following the basic rules for Icelandic parking to the letter. You're an inspiration, Simmi D. A true inspiration to us all!

1. If there is not already a car there, it's a spot. 
This is the basic principle that governs all parking logic in Iceland: I am in a car. I want to go to place "X" so I drive as close to X as my car can take me, and then I find a place where there is not already a car, and put my car there. Voila! Parked! All other parking rules fall under the umbrella of rule #1.

2. Signs and markings are more like suggestions 
When witnessing the effects of  rule #1 of Icelandic parking, an outsider might be inclined to point out to the driver in question that there are signs indicating where society has deemed it appropriate to park and where it has not. Moreover, there are often painted lines on the ground to serve the same purpose. Here we see the trump effects of rule #1 in action. Assume that the "but I wanted to go there" logic will win out in every case.

3. The rules are for other people. 
So why the signs and lines mentioned in rule #2? Comeon! We are not barbarians! We understand that if everyone just parked wherever the hell they wanted, society would fall into chaos. We would all be stuck in a constant traffic jam; a confused mess of dented doors and honking horns and congestion. We absolutely need the signs and lines so everybody can get the places they need to go and do what they need to do. Just not me.

4. The bigger your car, the more important it is, and by extension, the more important you are. 
Let's be real, people. I have a teeny tiny penis. I mean, we're talkin' hung like a double A battery kind of small. To make myself feel more important and domineering, I bought a ginormous Land Rover on credit. I earned the right to put my giant cock SUV wherever I want to put it. I can drive through rivers. Can your little car do that? I'd bet not. My car is so big, I basically need two spaces anyway, so I will just park in the middle. I'm actually doing a favor to the other cars, since if I tried to pull into one of those tight little spots with all my massiveness, I might hurt your unfortunate small car.

5. If your wheels can drive on it, it's "road" enough to park on. 
There's a fine line between "sidewalk" and "street." This line is typically called a "curb." As we learned in rule #4, the bigger your car, the more important you are, and the concepts of curbs start to matter less and less. If your wheels are large enough to carry your car up the curb, you've got yourself a parking spot! The same principle applies to areas bearing zero resemblance to a "road" as we commonly use the word. By which I mean, fields, highlands, beaches, the median, streams, glaciers...if your wheels can take you there, it's for driving, and thus...parking!

*Note: If you are confused about the basic Icelandic parking rules, or find yourself asking the question, "Really? Do Icelanders park like that?" I refer you to the sterling guidelines provided on the facebook page "Lærðu að Leggja!!" (translation: "learn to park!!") where you can peruse some excellent crowd-sourced examples of the Icelandic parking rules in action, executed precisely as intended.

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