Using Your Child to Reserve a Parking Space? Seriously. How do people usually handle this situation?


“Dear PoPville,

I am aware that residents of busy neighborhoods such as Adams Morgan often “reserve” parking spaces using trash cans or lawn chairs. In those situations I tend to just play along and keep driving. However, today I encountered a situation that took this ploy too far: instead of using a chair, someone used a 10-year-old child.

I was searching for parking in Adams Morgan this afternoon, but spaces were scarce due to the street festival. Finally, I saw an empty space on a crowded side road and happily pulled up next to it. I then saw two (approximately) ten-year-old kids standing in the street near the curb. One moved immediately, but the other did not. When I asked him to move, he said he was saving the space and even laid down in the street. He implied I had run him over and said he had a broken leg! Amused but resolved, I informed him the several people walking nearby could see that I hadn’t hit him, and that he could not save spaces on a public street. After several minutes he eventually moved. There was no cursing and no yelling involved. When I returned to my car 45 minutes later, this note was on my car, presumably from the child’s parent.

I don’t pride myself on picking fights with children (I don’t consider this a fight), but there was no adult in sight and it seemed extreme for a 10-year-old to stand in the street to reserve a parking space (I’m assuming for the parent). Did I go too far in telling this boy to move? How do people usually handle this situation?”

109 Comment

  • Myself I have waited in an empty space for my S.O.’s car to park. So I understand the driver’s frustration. I’m not sure that I would instruct my 10 year old child to reserve the space, but then again parenting does not come with an instruction manual. If I saw a lawn chair or garbage can in the space, I would definitely move it.

  • Rude! Sorry you had to experience this. It’s pathetic people actually reserve spaces. If your car ain’t there, the space should be up for grabs to anyone who needs it. That’s why they call it street parking!

  • Parents are people too, and people can be quite silly. I would probably be as annoyed and as insistent as you were, 10-year-old kid, lawn chair, stray cat, or whatever was left to “reserve” a public parking spot.

  • anonymouse_dianne

    They’re both glass bowls looking for street parking during Adams Morgan Day :poop:

  • I don’t think standing in a parking space to “reserve” it is good etiquette… but I don’t think arguing with someone who’s standing in a space attempting to “reserve” it is good etiquette either. In this situation, better to just sigh and move on.
    For what it’s worth, I lived in Adams Morgan for 9 years and never saw anyone attempting to “reserve” a parking space with a trash can or lawn chair.

    • Yup, Same here. 10 years in adams morgan, never seen anyone try to reserve a space.

      • +1
        I have lived in Lanier Heights for 15 years — 14 of which without a reserved parking space — and I never saw that either. But I have certainly seen people stand briefly in a space for someone to come park in it. For instance if the driver has to turn around or circle the block to approach it from the right direction. I think that is fair.

    • You’re right, I haven’t seen the lawnchair/plastic chair/trash move in Adams Morgan, but I see it pretty often in Petworth and other DC neighborhoods, especially in the winter.

  • Here’s how you handle this: suck it up and go find another parking space. It sucks that people would do this and all, but the alternative is getting into a fight with a 10-year old over a parking space.

    • it’s not a fight to tell a kid to move out of a public roadway. jesus. if the kid id old enough to lie down in the street, he’s old enough to be told to get out of it. that’s not safe for anyone.

      • It might not be a fistfight, but it’s undeniably an argument. The kid shouldn’t have been “saving” the parking space. The kid also shouldn’t have sassed the OP. But I maintain that when the OP saw the kids in the space, he/she should have just sighed, grumbled to himself/herself “Parents these days!”, and kept looking for a space.

        • Yes, because looking the other way when one sees aberrant behavior is the best way to deal with it.

          • What the kids were doing is obnoxious, but does it really warrant intervention the way it would if, say, they were throwing rocks at passersby? And are you really going to be able to intervene in a way that’s going to change the kid’s outlook/behavior?
            I’m no fan of obnoxious kids, but in this case, I don’t think what they were doing was grievous enough for it to be worth my time to deal with them. And did the kid in this case really learn a lesson? The outcome might have been “Mommy can’t always get the parking space she wants”… but I bet the parent is telling the kid that he did exactly the right thing and the OP is a jerk, and that that’s what’s going to sink in with the kid.

    • ah

      What you should have done is moved along, found another space, and then gone back to the saved space and left a note on the car reading:

      “I can’t believe you had your 10-year old child lie down in a parking space to “save” it for you. It’s pathetic.”

    • I’m sorry, but I’m not going to be bested by some kid. I’m an adult in a car. If a kid is standing in a parking space to “reserve” it for whomever, I’m going to tell them to move. Of course I’d be polite about it, but it’s extremely obnoxious for someone to do this, let alone have their child do it (and not a safe situation for the kid if some nut job decides to just take the parking spot whether he is in it or not).

  • The child was not just saving a spot. He accused you of hitting him with your vehicle (and breaking his leg?!?)

    You were right to stand your ground and insist he move on. That kind of behavior cannot be tolerated.

    • From what the OP said above, the kid didn’t pull that stunt until after the OP started backing into the space.
      The kid sounds like either he’s still finding the line between “real” and “let’s pretend”… or he’s a jerk. But even if it’s the latter, it would’ve been better for the OP to avoid engaging with him and just keep looking for a space.

      • no, i bet his parent taught him to be a jerk about this. kids model this behavior and if the note is any indication, it’s no surprise where he learned those tactics from

    • He was quite enterprising for a 10-year-old kid! I don’t know if I should be excited or scared for the future.

  • Another example of entitled parents who think having children entitles to special treatment which sickens me. No different than people who queue their child up at the grocery store in front of me, then show up with additional armfuls of groceries. Excuse me, but I took the time to COMPLETE my shopping before queuing. Wouldn’t it be nice if I had some proxy stand-in to queue up as soon as we walk into the grocery store!

    • lol. yes, “sickening” grocery store behavior, and definitely part of a parent-superiority malaise.

    • “Wouldn’t it be nice if I had some proxy stand-in to queue up as soon as we walk into the grocery store!”

      “We” would imply you do, in fact, have a proxy….

      And don’t point the finger only at ‘entitled parents’. Right or wrong, it’s a strategy practiced by all sorts of people.

      • +1. There are certainly instances of parents acting entitled in relation to other people, but I don’t think a parent having a kid save his/her place in the line at the grocery store is one of them.

      • Based on the fact that she’s using the term “queue up” instead of “get in line” I’m convinced that Anon 2:43 is actually the Queen and, therefore, that’s the royal “We” you’ve made note of. Now, if you would please show a little more courtesy towards HRH…

      • I’ve never seen this before. And it wouldn’t bother me if I did. If someone’s in front of me and they forgot to get a few things it’s not a big deal. I have to wait perhaps an additional minute – or three – for the cashier to ring up these items = more time to read the magazines by the check out.

    • Wait – so you’re saying if mom & kid are in line and mom leaves kid there to grab something else they should leave the line entirely and start over? A “proxy” holding a place in line, so long as they are not attempting to squeeze in more than the original number of people/transactions is completely fair, and a very different situation from this one.

  • what’s wrong with asking a 10 year old to save the space? American’s think kids are too small and fragile.

    • Because they might get into altercations with people like the OP?

    • Hazah! I use my nine year old as a table leg! He is sturdy and rot resistant. Parents need not think of their children as people, they are simple utility items, such a as a chair or a garbage can.
      But seriously, if I did what every 10 yo hoodlum told me to do… The note writer should have left a name or contact information, otherwise it’s just screaming into the wind.

    • because it’s rude. parking spaces have a no reservation policy.

  • Happens all the time at DC supermarkets in the checkout lines. It’s the parents being arrogant and self centered, not the children, better to ignore it and move on. Adams Morgan is a terrible place to have a car… Petworth rocks!

    • I have been going to grocery stores in DC since the late 70s. I have never, ever seen this happen — or, at least never as a conscious ploy. The other day I forgot something at Whole Foods and left my girlfriend in line while I dashed back to grab it (as I have done since the late 70s — I always lose my shopping list in the produce aisle or something). Does this make me arrogant and self-centered?

      • Kind of. I mean, you had a Whole Foods all to yourself since the late 70s and didn’t share with others until what – the mid-90s?

    • By the same token, it’s also a terrible place to raise a kid!

  • I have encountered this once or twice. It happens so rarely that I generally drive on and forget about it. What’s happening more these days is people in large tubby vehicles idling, allowing barely enough room to pass them.

  • I encountered this with two adults standing in a space on Thursday evening in Dupont. I drove away but it realllllly pissed me off that after circling several blocks and finding I spot, I had to keep moving because someone was “saving” it.

  • I think the only time it’s acceptable to reserve a space, with a trash can, lawn chair, or child, is after a big snow where you’ve plowed your car out of a spot. It really isn’t fair for someone to come and take advantage of your hard work and there should be some sort of community recognition of that effort. Otherwise, one person doesn’t own the street more than any other, so no savesies. Sorry.

    • Acceptable? Debatable. Illegal? Definitely.

      • Definitely illegal, but I’d say culturally acceptable slash wouldn’t get you labeled a self-entitled jerk in my book.

        • I would definitely label you a self entitled jerk. You don’t own the street just because you shoveled your car out of a parking space. If I see people put chairs in the street after a snow storm, I move them out of the way. It is both illegal and very obnoxious to your neighbors.

    • I have never understood that logic. Regardless of your hard work shoveling out the space, it is still on a public street. And if the space is empty, other people are entitled to use it. It’s a bummer to lose a space you shoveled out, but part of living in the city is having to share space.

      • It’s because not everyone takes the time to shovel their cars out. They just forge forward, compacting the snow, then when they return to the neighborhood, take the person’s spot that actually spent the time to shove their car out leaving that person to have to shovel again.

        • OK, I can understand that would be annoying. But it’s still a public space on a public street that doesn’t belong to any one person. Unless you just leave your car there until spring, you’re going to have to deal with someone else parking in the space you shoveled.

    • I agree! I guess that is where my instinct to leave trash cans/lawn chairs undisturbed comes from. It feels so wrong to use a parking spot that someone else shoveled out!

      • And if somebody takes your spot you spent 6 hours shoveling out, simply return to the car at night with a few gallons of water and apply, wait 30 minutes, return, repeat, repeat, repeat. Ahhh, sweet revenge

  • Been living in Admo for 6 years – never seen anyone reserve a space with a lawn chair or trash can. I’ve never even seen a lawn chair in Adams Morgan.

  • I can definitely sympathize with the frustrating process that is finding parking in Adams Morgan. I would also be crazy annoyed if I finally found a spot, only to have a couple of kids insist that they’re saving it. But I also think that you’re lucky the only thing you found later was a note… I’d be a bit too worried about any kind of retaliation to my car to force people out of the spot. Maybe I’m too cautious, but it doesn’t seem worth the risk to me.

  • Did you actually fight with the 10yo or just tell him to get out of the way? If it’s the latter, then you’re good – no need to worry.

  • I don’t understand why there’s a difference between a chair, etc saving a spot and a ten year old. I would actually think that the 10 year old is more legit, since it probably means that the person that will be parking in the spot is nearby (whereas someone could put a chair in a spot and go to work for the day). I wouldn’t have picked this fight.

    • “I don’t understand why there’s a difference between a chair, etc saving a spot and a ten year old.”
      One difference is that a chair doesn’t learn that it’s OK to be selfish and rude in order to get something that you want but that you don’t have any more right to than anyone else. Another difference is that I can put my hands on a chair and rightfully move it out of the way real easily; a ten-year-old, probably not such a good idea. There are probably more differences, but that should be enough to get the old brain gears moving.

      • Thanks for that. In case I wasn’t clear, I don’t understand the difference between a chair and a kid in this situation. Both are saving a spot- why would the OP drive past a chair but not a kid in the spot? It’s not their job to parent the kid and one heated encounter isn’t going to change that kid’s outlook on whether this is selfish/rude.

        • I wouldn’t drive past a chair – I’d move it.
          Someone on my street leaves cones to protect a parking spot – I’ll move them when I walk by.

        • I guess my instinct to leave chairs/trash cans undisturbed comes from the winter time practice of people reserving spaces they shoveled out. I feel guilty taking a space that someone shoveled out themselves — that’s tedious and hard work! I concede it’s debatable, but I get it.

    • Let’s say there is no difference between the two, which is debatable. They are both still wrong.

  • Ally

    I’d have probably let this one go without saying anything to the child. The issue is the parent who put their child into that position (which I agree is very dangerous). If I saw someone tie their dog up to reserve a space, I can assure you I’d be rescuing said dog and waiting for the owner to show up. But, confronting the kid — who is just a kid — about the bad behavior of the parent may not have been the best way to go.

  • I want to know what the torn-off part of the note said.

    • There as no other part of the note — the note writer hastily tore a piece of envelope to use as paper. The ragged edge was how it appeared on my car.

  • The person who left the note probably lives very close to the parking spot. Make a copy of it. Below her writing, write this: “I can’t believe you used a 10 year old to save a parking space. It’s pathetic.” Put up copies on a few posts on the street.

  • clevelanddave

    Hey, how about this: have the city build a parking garage in AM like they do in most other cities so that there isn’t such a severe shortage of parking. Except for the environmental police who don’t want anyone to drive a car, that would solve a whole bunch of problems for businesses, for residents, and for visitors. On top of it, the city would probably end up making money from the project. Even the developers, who have been allowed to get away with building buildings without any/sufficient parking spaces would probably generally be in favor. *sigh*

    • I thought the city had been losing a lot of money on the parking garage it built at DCUSA, so I’d be surprised if any more municipal parking garages were in the works.
      There’s already a non-municipal parking garage in Adams Morgan, under the Hoffman(n?) Lofts.

      • That’s not the only one. There’s a much bigger garage at the corner of Champlain and Florida. But people are lazy, I guess.

      • Won’t help a bit. It’ll actually make it worse. More people will attempt to drive in thinking they can find parking, won’t and result will be more circling traffic. Reducing parking is proven to reduce traffic.

    • Accountering

      Great idea! Where should the build it? What should we forgo to pay for it? (/sarcasm)
      To build an adequate sized garage in Adams Morgan will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 million. It would also involve Eminent Domain. It’s not going to happen. Just because they do it in Cleveland (where land is super cheap) doesn’t mean it applies in one of the densest neighborhoods of DC.

      • There have been ideas floating around for years about building a lot under the tennis courts/fields of the Marie Reed Center. Not sure of the cost analysis, but the land would be free, eliminating a major up-front investment. My guess is that there’s either not enough demand for pay parking, or that there’s a high likelihood that operating inefficiencies and embezzlement would sap the project of its profitability. It would be a DC-operated lot, remember.

    • Accountering

      Also, the fact you think the city would make money on a parking garage says clearly that your opinion can be pretty much disregarded. There is no possible way they would make money on a garage in Adams.

  • Yeah, you no one owns a parking space, but really? Arguing with a 10 year old? That is pretty pathetic.

    • Original note writer? Is that you? 😉

      I promise you — I did not argue with that child, I just informed him what he was doing was wrong.

      • Did you come here seeking validation? Many PoPvillagers have said that you should’ve acted differently (even though the kid shouldn’t have been there in the first place).

        • My apologies to Brett, that was kind of a cheap shot. I couldn’t resist. But I feel it was fair given she/he didn’t even vary his criticism from the original note.

          I brought my story to PoP to get a general notion of how people handle “spot savers,” specifically human spot savers. I guess it raises more issues for discussion, like what type of interaction with unaccompanied children is appropriate, and that’s ok too.

          Thanks for your input!

    • You all are acting like a 10-year-old kid is a special snowflake who needs to be protected and OP is an awful monster for rightfully asking the kid to move so he could utilize a public parking space. Please. That kid needed to be set straight and I would have loved to tell off the dipsh*t parent too.

  • Man, f**king DC. *rolls eyes*

  • i blame the parents.

  • I have fought with children over a parking space on at least 8 different occasions. I have found that the best way to resolve it is through break dance fighting. Nothing fancy. 3 rounds. Common rules apply. I have won 7 out of 8 times and the kid usually immediately vacates the spot. Hope this helps.

  • Similar thing happened to be near 14th and T a few months ago. A woman claimed to be saving a space for a pregnant friend. I contemplated arguing for all 10 seconds and then just moved on. I vented later on PopVille and went on with my life.

  • The parents of these kids are lucky the OP only asked the kids to move so he could park. I seriously question the judgement of the parent who left their kids alone to deal with what would be an obvious confrontation with an adult. They should count their lucky stars that someone didn’t come along and do something worse. There are crazies out there.

    If your car isn’t in the spot then you can’t reserve it with an object, pet, or small child. Unless you shovel it out and then you EARNED the spot. 🙂

  • I am a parent and totally would have yelled at that kid. Not the kid’s fault, but the best way to get through to that parent is to come home and see their kid in tears – or maybe not because they abandoned their kid for an extended time.

    If my wife wouldn’t let me yell at the kid, I would have called the police to report the unattended child standing in the street. Hopefully a visit from some kind of children’s services may impress upon the parents how unacceptable and dangerous their behavior was.

    When the child claimed to have broken his leg, I would have called 911 to have an ambulance attend to him.

    I would not put up with that crap. We live in a city. Everything from the water we drink to the public parking spaces we use are shared.

    1. You cant save parking spaces.
    2. If you want a reserved space, they are readily available for rent or purchase.
    3. Having a car is a privilege, NOT a right (and not even necessary in DC). Parking is your responsibility – figure it out.
    4. I rent a space behind my building for $200/month. I also rent a space near my office for $200/month. In addition spending almost $5,000/year on parking, I also get around $1,000/year in parking tickets. I have lived in DC for 10 years and work 6 blocks away from my home and really only walk to work, but for the few times a month I do need to drive I am forced to spend a fortune on parking because of the city’s crazy parking policies that favor some residents, but not others.
    5. I hate DC’s parking zones in general. Why do you have the right to park all day, but I can only park for an hour or two? Why do you have a car if you park it all day? Why do you live downtown and demand to have parking at your front door? They have places like that – they’re called the ‘burbs where you will likely find a driveway all to yourself.
    6. The thing about the discussion that bothers me the most is how entitled some people feel to PUBLIC space. The snow shoveling comments killed me – so you dig your car out and now the space is yours? All winter? Forever? No! My tax dollars (not very much of your gas taxes, but my actual sales and payroll taxes) build and maintain the roads for everyone to use. You shovel snow for 30 minutes and all of a sudden it is 1800 and you have staked your claim? WTF?!?

    • I agree with your a lot of your sentiment, but zoned streets benefit the actual residents of the neighborhood. I am definitely for it. Also, it sounds like you park your car most of the time, so why are you asking why someone has a car if they park it all day? Obviously there are some things that are just way more convenient if you have a car, even if you don’t need it every day.
      What I don’t understand is why you pay for monthly parking at work if you only utilize it a few times a month and can walk to work. Why not just do daily? Also if you’re getting $1000 a year in parking tickets, you’re doing it wrong.

    • You might be better off taking a cab on the times you can’t walk to work, if it’s only 6 blocks and only a couple of times a month, you’ll save a huge amount of money.

    • +1 to “if you’re getting $1000 a year in parking tickets, you’re doing it wrong.” I think I’ve had less than $200 total in parking tickets in 12 years in the District.

  • I would of run the kid over

  • I don’t get why this is such a big deal. While people holding spaces for large amounts of time is always obnoxious, it has been my experience that a human holding a space for a few minutes while someone drives around the block, or while two people are exchanging spaces, is ok. Yes, as a driver, it is not fun when I come across this, but who hasn’t done with (using an adult or two) to hold a space for a few minutes, say, when moving furniture or something?

  • This has been going on for years. I encountered two kids, probably about 8 and 9 years old, saving a spot in AdMo in 2009. I told them unless their mom was turning around to approach the spot from the right direction and they could point to her vehicle, parking was first come first served and they needed to get out of the spot. They told me their mom needed that particular spot because it was big and “she can’t parallel park.” I told them if they found me an alternative, smaller spot, that their mom couldn’t park in but my car would fit in, then I would park there and leave the larger spot to her!

  • I definitely would have told him to move. I despise the use of cones, trash cans or any objects to reserve spaces (snow being the exception), using your kids is next level. No one is entitled to non reserved parking spots in this city.

  • I had to laugh at this post- as a kid my dad often made me stand in parking spaces (usually in NYC) and it is just as embarrassing over 20 years later. Luckily for me I was never confronted!

  • The note is pathetic… Standing in a spot to save it while your friend goes around the block because it’s a one way street is common. Bitching someone out AFTER you got the spot is not.

Comments are closed.