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Heymatt:

I see that Horton Plaza has a section of parking for pregnant women. As a male, if I park there, will the cops (or mall cops) treat this the same way they would if I parked in the handicapped spots? And if my girlfriend parks there, will they make her pee on a stick for verification? I mean, what if she’s only two weeks pregnant?

— J.B. Parks, downtown

Courtesy. That old, dead concept courtesy. Why, as a man, would you even be worrying about this? You drive up, read the sign (This space reserved for pregnant women), you check yourself out and decide you’re not a pregnant woman, and you drive on. You slightly inconvenience yourself for the benefit of another. Courtesy. Do you have to be threatened with an expensive parking ticket in order to follow a polite suggestion? The answer to your question is, no, you won’t get a fat fine for parking in a pregnant ladies’ space. Pregnant women do not have any special standing in law as handicapped people do, so no special laws are written for them. The spaces are reserved by the mall ownership as a courtesy to a special group of shoppers. You can flagrantly ignore the signs and the only punishment you might suffer is the angry glares of people who didn’t park in the pregnant spaces or maybe a pummeling with the purses of pregnant women who couldn’t park there because you did. Non-pregnant women, of course, can park there with impunity, since no one is likely to be nosy enough to ask what’s going on or make them pee on a stick in the parking lot.

Hey there, Matt:

When I was a young, troublesome rapscallion, one of my favorite destructive pastimes was to throw rocks at wasps’ nests. I discontinued these little adventures after the wasps finally caught up with me one summer afternoon and sent me off to the emergency room. My question is, what exactly are wasps’ nests made out of? Could it be wasp feces? Or do they just go down to the local Wasp Depot for overpriced supplies?

— Luscious Periwinkle, University Heights

Wasps aren’t a common Southern California urban buglet. They’re mostly found in mountainous areas and foothills, so maybe some explanation is required here. The nests of the wasps you will find locally (paper wasps, yellow jackets) look like irregular paper balloons (though yellow jacket nests are built underground or in crevices). Paper wasps prefer the eaves of your house. Bees and mud dauber wasps build nests from mud that they pick up and smoosh onto the growing structure. Paper wasps and yellow jackets scrape shavings from old fences, weathered telephone poles, any disintegrating wooden thing. And sometimes the odd paper bag or cardboard box in a fine example of natural recycling. Then they hang out chewing the shavings for a while, mixing them well with wasp spit. When they have an appropriately soft and sticky ball of pulp in their mouths, they head for the nest and spread the stuff onto the ballooning construction with their mandibles and legs. So the nests really are made of a form of paper — spat on, softened, squished, and compacted wood pulp.

Hey, Matt:

Every now and then I will get solicitations from various religious or political organizations with a “suggested donation” to purchase their books or DVDs. They place a suggested price on it, but isn’t it true that if it is a donation, I can simply send one cent and by law they are supposed to send me the item? I’m not cheap, just thrifty in these hard economic times.

— Paul in Recession

A suggestion is just what it sounds like. Just a thought, a small hint. No one is holding a gun to your head or threatening to take you to small claims if you don’t send the full amount and demand your DVD. They’re just hoping enough people won’t want to look like cheapskates and will opt for at least the suggested amount. But I guess you can resist that kind of emotional blackmail.

Matt:

Why do some old apartment buildings call themselves the Such-and-Such Arms? Like the Windsor Arms or the Johnson Arms? What are arms, besides the obvious?

— Madison Arms, Hillcrest

Arms, as in coat-of. The family crest. Tradition began with English tavern/hostels, often on a duke’s or baron’s land. To honor the landlord, the innkeeper would put the family crest on the sign and call the place the Smitherton Arms or whatever the duke’s name was. Emigrants to the U.S. had no local dukes, but they made up their own version of the tradition to add a touch of class (British-style) to their drinking or sleeping establishment.

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Comments

Josh Board Aug. 28, 2008 @ 1:42 a.m.

Sometimes...the "donation" has to be paid. For example, at the Petco Parking lot last weekend, it was a "suggested donation" of $5 to go see all those great bands (Black Keys, Grand Ole Party, Kinky, Common, Buddy Akai). Two people were at the door collecting $5 from everyone. And, I remember at bars, when certain bands were playing there'd be a "donation", and you pretty much had to pay that to get in. I asked what the deal was once. I was told something about a law, that had to do with an entertainment permit if there is a cover at the door, but that it's different if there's a "donation", or something like that. It's all a blur now. But...I'll bet if Paul sent a penny, they wouldn't send the item. If you wrote and asked why, they'd say "It will cost us more in postage," or some such thing.

Regarding the pregnant women parking...hey, if a pregnant woman can walk around the mall, using her husbands credit card to buy baby clothes (and I'm sure, clothing for herself), she can surely walk the extra 500 feet to park further back!!!!

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gemininsight Aug. 28, 2008 @ 2:43 p.m.

About the pregnant women's parking...

WOW!!! Gotta love all the sensitive guys out there!! What happened to chivalry? I guess it's too much to ask of you hopeless romantics to just walk the extra 500 feet yourselves? I mean afterall, we women are walking around carrying your little bundles of joy and hope. Just doing our part for humanity and all. Not to mention, taking the beating that comes with it. Swollen feet, aching backs, hormonal imbalances, indigestion, hot flashes, labor pains (which can kind of be described as someone roundhousing you in the gut when you aren't wearing pads, except the intentsity is lasting for hours instead of seconds), itchy stretch marks, and all of the other wonderful pregnancy sypmtoms we woman get to endure for the sake of delivering future generations. Hey, I have a crazy idea....why don't all you Mr. not-so-nice guys strap about 50 pounds of bricks around your waists and live like that for just a week...then, after that, you can let me know if that 500 extra feet looks alot better!!! Maybe, just maybe, that might make a gentleman out of one or two of you. Also, I didn't need my husband's money, thank you very much, I bought baby's clothes with my own hard-earned mula! Oh, and to the guy who decided to gripe in the first place, I can't wait until your girlfriend is pregnant!! I put a hex on her for twins....muahahaha!!

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towelheadedcameljockey Aug. 28, 2008 @ 3:15 p.m.

Now that there was the pregnant "man" on Oprah, I think someone will get offended by the sign which only says women. Because that's what we do, get offended.

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gemininsight Aug. 28, 2008 @ 4:26 p.m.

Well, that pic on the sign is bald. So, it could be a man in drag. But, then again, maybe it's just Britney Spears....

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_Spark_ Aug. 28, 2008 @ 6:28 p.m.

Yeah, I don't see how a pregnant woman can withstand "swollen feet, aching backs, hormonal imbalances, indigestion, [and] hot flashes" walking up and down the multiple levels Horton Plaza, but doesn't want to walk any extra distance to get from the parking lot into the mall. You don't have to pregnant to have those symptoms. If we are truly being courteous to our fellow shoppers, those who are in good health should park as far away as possible and leave the closer parking spaces to anyone who might have a headache, earache, backache, stubbed toe, uncomfortable shoes, small children, elderly parents, be in a hurry, or have to pee real bad.

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Josh Board Aug. 29, 2008 @ 1:16 a.m.

Thank you, Spark. You said it better than I was about to.

I'm all for chivalry. I hold doors open for women. I pick up checks. I would tip my hat...if, I wore a hat.

But it's one thing to be disabled, and "need" to still go to the mall, and having the convenience of "handicapped parking". Or, having something that feels like "50 pounds of bricks", and DECIDING to go out for a day of shopping (on a side note: if it's 50 pounds, why is the kid 7 pounds when it's born?)

I've said before...women get the short end of the stick. In so many health related things....having babies, breast cancer, etc etc etc. But, I hate when women play the "men would never be able to have a kid" card. That's crap. I've seen first hand, that women have a lower tolerance for pain then men.

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gemininsight Aug. 29, 2008 @ 1:26 p.m.

Interesting....but not convincing!

Maybe the baby is only 7 pounds at birth ( or in my case,each were 9), but, did a couple disgruntled fellas forget to add in the weight of the placenta, all the extra fluids and the extra weight that the mother gains into the equation?? Hmm.. I don't think so. Besides, I'm not saying it's 50 pounds exactly, just saying, it sure feels like it is. Also, why are pregnant women being scrutinized for shopping? I mean, let's just a imagine for a bit..... Previously pregnant, non-shopping woman comes home with her newborn. But, unfortuately now, there is no crib, no diapers, no little stuffed boo-boo bears, no bottles, no (much needed) diaper genie, no cutsie lil "I love Daddy" bibs, or any clothes, for that matter....etc., etc. I mean, she could've sent her husband, but that would just interfere with his job, baseball, football, golf with the guys, Home Depot outtings, the occasional car show, oh, and sleep. Besides, the fact is,no woman in their right mind would send their husband anyway to get new stuff for baby! I could see that now...black "Iron Maiden" bibs, a full sized bed (to alleviate the necessity of upsizing the baby's bed as the baby grows, of course!), a killer "I love to fart" bib, an archery set and plenty of other "precious" items for baby. So, guys, that's why pregnant women need to go shopping! Plus, the parking spaces ARE available, so stop whinning!!!

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Josh Board Aug. 30, 2008 @ 11:57 a.m.

Nice gemini. That was a great post.

I guess my logic isn't that pregnant women shouldn't shop. But, that it might be hard for someone that is 150 pounds overweight to walk, so maybe there should be designated parking spaces for them.

And, before you know it, they start having different spaces for all kinds of things.

The worst, though, is seeing a handicapped person, with the stickers and placard and everything, park in a REGULAR spot. I want to slap 'em and say, "Look at those 8 spaces near the front, that I'm not allowed to park in. Utilize those!!! Don't take one of the spaces I could use."

Them damn folks in wheelchairs and crutches. They got it made.

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gemininsight Aug. 30, 2008 @ 2:19 p.m.

Well Josh and Spark, touche! I do agree we don't need everyone using their excuses of sniffly noses and "I have a blue-colored car" to try and get parking spaces closer to the mall. However, I do think that people who are rather overweight should have their own designated spaces. Altough, I think those spaces should be at the very end of the parking lot. Because, that extra walking sure as heck couldn't hurt 'em!!

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Russ Lewis Aug. 30, 2008 @ 2:37 p.m.

Unless the overweight is due to a medical condition. In that case, the exercise may not do anything to help.

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Ponzi Aug. 30, 2008 @ 3:47 p.m.

People that park in disabled spots are jerks. People that abuse the placards are jerks too. After having broken a knee and having to wear a brace, I really understand how important the spaces are to disabled people. Those extra feet you don't have to walk, limp, or skip (with crutches) are really helpful.

I would assume courteous women that were "not showing" yet would leave those pregnant spaces open for the women that have to struggle more.

It goes back to courtesy. I'm just one of those people that don't circle a lot looking for tho closest spot. I enjoy the walk (now that my knee has healed.)

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Josh Board Aug. 30, 2008 @ 6:11 p.m.

You mention to thinks of interest, Ponzi. First..."courtesy". I found it odd that Mathew Alice answered the initial question focusing on "courtesy". When, in fact, it was just a question on if there's a stiff fine. Doesn't necessarily mean the letter writer wanted to jump on those spots. Or that the letter writer was even male.

Second...I always laugh at LA Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness, you see a bunch of cars parked by the front door. You are going there to "work out" yet I guess they feel walking the extra 800 feet in the parking lot, isn't the work-out they wanted!

Regarding disabled parking, you also nailed it. My friend got a placard for a knee/ankle injury that was severe. Yet, he lied, and got it updated for years and years afterwards. When we all gave him crap about that, he said he only uses it when there's no parking he can find downtown, and situations like that. I doubt it, though.

And...sometimes cops, have to use better judgement on ticketing in disabled spots. My friend ran into his office on Miramar Road. It was Sunday at 10 p.m. No other cars in sight. He parked in the handicap spot, ran into his office for two minutes. Came out, and a cop is ticketing his car. Now, ticketing someone when it's a none-business hour at a business, when clearly there are no other cars in the lot (let alone handicap spaces), is just insane.

Sure, he could've parked a few spaces over and been fine, but still.

And lastly....a common misbelief is that YOU CANNOT use the disabled stalls in bathroom. In fact, you can. So don't feel guilty about going in there. They are just built that way so that the disabled can use them. NOT like the parking spaces, where ONLY the disabled can use them. So...pee away. With all that extra space to enjoy!

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Ponzi Aug. 30, 2008 @ 7:52 p.m.

I don't beleive there is a fine for parking in the "Pregancy" reserved spots because they are not required by the State of California. So they are unregulated. Again, they are for a courtesy like the spaces reserved to pick-up take out food.

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Ponzi Aug. 30, 2008 @ 7:54 p.m.

Oh, I always use the disabled bathroom stalls and spread my Reader out and take my time thumbing through the pages while I take care of business.

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Fred Williams Aug. 31, 2008 @ 7:01 a.m.

After reading the article and the comments following, I had to try it for myself.

I dressed up in maternity clothes, tied a pillow to my belly, and parked in one of those spots.

I'd almost made it to the mall, when a burly security officer spotted me. He started off politely enough, but when he saw the stubble on my chin a mean look crossed his face.

In short, I was stripped and forced to pee on a little piece of plastic. When the little blue plus sign failed to materialize, I was handed over to SDPD.

I won't go into all the details, but after a weekend in the slammer I think I might now be pregnant.

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Josh Board Aug. 31, 2008 @ 3:09 p.m.

Well Ponzi, if you spread the Reader out, that's fine. Just don't make too wide of a stance. You'll run into a Senator Craig in the next stall over.

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