Tonight I Met Napoleon at Versailles

I did not cook dinner for my family this evening. Instead I called Versailles and ordered the following:

  • One lemon chicken
  • One steak sandwich
  • One side of rice

I then hopped in the Jaguar and made the drive to Encino to fetch our supper. As is typical at 7 pm on a Saturday night the parking lot was jammed. Since I was going to be in the store for three minutes or less I did what many take out customers do. I double parked blocking just two cars. Since the whole front of the restaurant is glass this inconveniences no one, it’s easy to see if someone is making their way to one of the two blocked cars, and it takes seconds to move from the cashier to your car in order to make way for them.

Here is a diagram. You might be shocked to see that I drew it myself.

I am not a graphic designer

This is the parking lot layout

Unfortunately when I got to the cashier they had the order wrong. Waiting for me was:

  • One lemon chicken
  • One steak chicken
  • One side of rice

Instead of a minute, I’d be there ten. I went and stood by the door so I could be extra watchful when one of the two cars I was blocking wanted to leave. I’m considerate.

So when a very angry little man walked up to me and said, “Is that your Jaguar?” I smiled at him and said, “Yes”.

“I need you to move it.” He said.

“Oh, okay, which one is yours? The car or the truck?” I asked. You see, I wanted to back up in a way that would let his car out and then I’d (naturally) take the spot he was to vacate.

“The minivan.” He said.

And then I turned and looked. There was a minivan just waiting in the lot, stopping traffic and clearly waiting for a parking spot that didn’t exist.

I just stared at him, not at all comprehending this.

“You’re parked wrong.” He started angrily. “If you turn your car sideways then that’s a real parking spot and you’ve taken it and you’re not even eating here.”

“I’m getting takeout.” I smiled at him. I was getting bugged but determined to stay nice.

“You should make room for the people who are actually eating here….” He started.

“Listen,” I stared smiling all the while, “you’re about to have a heavy meal. The walk to the car afterwards will be refreshing.”

Incredibly he swaggered out to the lot, had a conversation with the driver of the minivan (his wife I assume) and then he sat at the bar with his friends drinking a beer and pointing at me while the minivan circled the block looking for the perfect parking spot.

A bit later while sitting at the dining room table with my family I recounted the tale. When I told them that Napoleon had wanted me to move my car to make way for his, my husband and daughter’s jaws fell simultaneously. They knew there wouldn’t be a happy ending for Napoleon.

The moral of the story, we explained to the kids, is to never ever, under any circumstances drive a minivan. That in an of itself is a sure sign of defeat.

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  2. “never ever, under any circumstances drive a minivan. That in an of itself is a sure sign of defeat.”

    That is honestly the best and most true line I have read in ages.

  3. I can’t stand that parking lot which is a big part of the reason why I refuse to eat there. I don’t want to have to worry about asking someone to move their car because it almost always turns into a pissing contest about who is bigger, stronger etc.

    In fact it is one of the few lots that is more poorly designed than Trader Joes. I swear that the lack of enough spaces is a marketing trick that corporate builds into every store. Build a new store where you expect to need 120 spaces and then intentionally only create 110 so that people are forced to drive around looking for a place. Simple way to create buzz.

  4. But I love my minivan.

    I think the moral is never order a steak sandwich in a place that has something that can be called a “steak chicken.” (What on Earth is a steak chicken?!?! Was it a vampire chicken that needed killing?)

    I’m keeping my minivan and Napoleon be damned.

  5. I loved my mini-vans. Wore out one, bought another. What other vehicle allows one to carry two road bikes inside, out of the elements, provides a comfortable place to change before and after a ride and is just generally a comfortable ride? Get a 4 wheel drive mini-van and go skiing, put boots on in van, step out into snow, none of that balancing act on the tailgate for you. Honestly, what is wrong with the mini-van, if you do sports you gotta have one. And I have zero children.

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