Humor Column: Double-Parked in Los Angeles
I really don’t mind it when non-Jews eat matzo ball soup or shout, “Mazel tov!” when someone announces a birth or engagement. After all, matzo ball soup is delicious, and “Mazel tov!” is a lot more fun to say than “Congratulations.” (It also has fewer syllables.) Also, it’s hard for me to begrudge others for borrowing our food or our language when I borrow the foods and language of other ethnic groups quite regularly. I’d be a hypocrite. But there’s one bit of cultural appropriation that I will protest: double-parking.
You see, double-parking belongs to New York Jews. In the streets of Brooklyn, it is a hallowed custom. Grown out of the desperate straits of those caught in taxis with no place to pull over, it has become the hallmark of the New York Jew. Only UPS men and Fed-Ex drivers may adopt this minhag with a clear conscience.
However, in the last two or three years, the use of double-parking by those driving for Uber and Lyft in Los Angeles has skyrocketed. On Hauser, 3rd Street, and Rexford, it has become common to find drivers double-parked, idling as they wait for their rides to emerge from their apartment buildings, blocking traffic for all those unfortunate enough to have chosen to drive those streets at that moment. Frequently, they double-park even when there is a totally legal spot at a curb just five or ten yards away. It seems they double-park by sheeta.
Even Angeleno Jews know better than to steal this minhag from their New Yorker co-religionists. Rarely do they double-park even though the streets of Hancock Park are narrow and parking scarce. The thought of chillul Hashem reverberates through their imaginations and forces them to find alternate solutions to their parking quandaries – like actually parking two blocks away, when necessary. (The one exception is Purim, when parents double-park with abandon all over Hancock Park and Pico-Robertson as their offspring deliver shalach manos. But we know that Purim is a period of v’hanofachu, when everything is flipped around.
Angelenos become New Yorkers. I fully expect that New Yorkers recycle and wear flip-flops everywhere on Purim. The women all wear white shells under their short-sleeved shirts.)
In the beloved and much-missed webseries Verplanck, one of the characters – a Breslover chassid – confesses that he has a personal custom to stop wherever he spots someone double-parked. He knows where there is double-parking, he’ll find Jews to whom he can hand his pamphlets filled with the wisdom of Rebbe Nachman.
If that Yid walked the streets of L.A. today, he’d be very confused. He’d see a car double-parked on Cochran and find a nice Korean family sending their kid back to college. Or he’d stop outside a restaurant on 3rd Street and discover a hipster about to eat avocado toast. Sure, maybe the Korean kid and the hipster would appreciate the words of Rebbe Nachman, but I don’t think they’re exactly our Yid’s target audience.
And so, I respectfully request all ride-sharing drivers cease their double-parking immediately. It’s the only moral thing to do.