Dan Rattiner's Stories

Hamptons Parking Madness: Viciousness Behind the Wheel on July 4 Weekend

Dan seeks out a parking space near 1770 House on the busiest weekend of summer.

My wife and I had a dinner date at 6 p.m. at the 1770 House in East Hampton last Thursday with a woman who has half a million followers on social media. For the purposes of this story, she will remain nameless.

It’s only 10 minutes for us to drive from our home to Main Street in East Hampton. On this day, traffic was horrific, the wolves weaving in and out among the sheep with reckless abandon. It took 20 minutes in this melee on Main Street, so we were going to be a bit late.

Because of that, as we drove down Main Street out of the business and toward the pond where the 1770 House is, I suggested to my wife that I just drop her off so dinner drinks could get started while I found a parking space, and she agreed to it. After she got out, I drove just a little further on, and on my side of the road, lucky me, I came upon probably the only empty parking space along that half-a-mile stretch between the business district and the pond. It was plenty easy for my car to fit into, but when I did it I was so excited, I wound up too far from the curb—far enough to find a ticket on my windshield after dinner if I didn’t fix it.

And so, I got back in the car and began backing and forthing in the space. I was careful. In front of me was a Porsche, in back of me a BMW. As I did this, a car driving in the lane just next to the parked cars saw my taillights. He slowed, then half a car length in front of my car, still in the lane, came to a stop. Clearly, he was now thinking this was his lucky day. I would leave and he would back in and take the spot.

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But then, quickly, another car pulled up in the lane next to me but half a car length behind my car. A parking fight was being set up. I was leaving, or so they thought, and then these two would fight over who got the space.

I was upset by this turn of events, went back and forth one last time, felt I was now close enough, and then turned off the engine, opened the driver’s door and got out. I very carefully avoided eye contact with either of these potential crazies as I walked around my car to the sidewalk. I did not want to join the fight. I had already won the fight. It took a few moments for both drivers to realize what had just happened, and when they did, they drove off.

Seating myself with the others in the 1770 House, I relayed this hair-raising story to my wife and our friend. Our friend then told us a story about what had happened about the same time I was having my story.

Believing there was no chance to park on the street, she was looking for a parking space in the Reutershan Parking Lot behind the stores on Main Street. Her intention was to park there, and then walk the few hundred yards to 1770.

“In the lot,” she said, “I found two spaces together, one beside the other, the only spaces in the lot. But as I approached these spaces, a man in a Ferrari zipped around me and turned in to park, taking up both spaces. The white line separating the spaces went right under the center of his car.

“I was really angry at this. He got out of his car, and I pulled up and rolled down my driver’s window and asked him to move—take one space rather than both. He ignored me. I revved my engine and said it louder. He stopped. He said, ‘I don’t want anybody’s door scratching the side of my car.’

“I grabbed my cellphone and held it up to the window frame at him. ‘See this?’ I said. ‘I have half a million followers. You are either going to move your car or I am going to make a video of you and your Ferrari and it will go viral. I’ve got your license plate in this. Everybody will know it’s you. Want me to post it? Your choice.’

“He thought about this a moment, got back in his car, backed up one car length and repositioned it so it took up just one spot. Then, before I could drive into the other, he quickly got out and without the slightest acknowledgement that anything unusual had just happened, walked away.”

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