Parking bay lines and where humanity is today.
6 February, 2021
Just on the other side of the manned gate entrance as one drives in at our offices we have a parking area for both visitors, customers, suppliers and staff. The area is somewhat rectangular one could say with the entrance in the middle of the long edge of the rectangle. The opposite long side of the rectangle is defined by a perfectly straight low retaining wall. There is no space for parking in the middle of the area but only in front of one, to the left or the right. The parking bays on the gate side of the rectangle are covered parking bays for staff on a kind of first come first served basis.
The approach from the outset was not to mark the parking bays but to leave the organisation of the parking to the visitors and the person at the gate welcoming and assisting visitors. The gate guard’s role is to welcome the people, take down the details of their vehicles such as make, colour, registration and any signage, to assist with directing the visitors where they want to go, and to make sure that the gate is closed all the time when there is nobody entering or leaving, pick up litter, sweep when required and so on. During their day they are disrupted as dictated by those wishing to enter or leave. They have little time to study or learn so that they can progress.
The parking area was not used effectively by those parking there. Drivers wasted space by parking too far away from the cars already there and dictating the possible correct orientation of the next car. They also parked too close to the next car so that a visitor returning to their car could not open their door to get in reasonably. In response to this and in order to give the gate guards the opportunity to influence things, to form the organisation and orientation of the cars in the parking area, we asked them to add to their discussion with visitors that they park in a certain way. Lots of training and role play was done. The end result was that nothing really changed. Somehow the concepts of spacial correctness could either not be held by the gate guard or the visitor, and so they got lost in translation. The parking of the vehicles in the parking area remained random. The human capacity to orientate themselves to spacial correctness simply did not manifest in the physical reality.
We decided then to paint demarcating lines for each parking bay. We measured them out, bought the paint and brushes necessary, set up a template for the lines and painted them. These lines are purely material things that don’t move once painted, don’t talk back, don’t issue instructions, don’t score the driver, and don’t need safety equipment or good morning greetings. They did have a major effect though. The parking area remains to this day well organised and responsibly used. The lines somehow had this effect. The human interaction between the gate guard and the visitor did not have this effect. The lines turned out to be very influential, effective, and low cost.
The takeout from this little real-life situation could be that humanity as a whole is still very rule bound and has little capacity to own their own orientation to things. As a whole we know that white lines should not be crossed. This is a rule, a ‘commandment’. It has a significant influence on how we go about things today, despite the cries to leave me alone to be myself and make my own decisions. This call for individuality is loud and voiced often, but are we sufficiently earnest about taking ownership of it? Do we know how to?
You are welcome to come and remove the lines from our parking area and to note the change in parking patterns. Try remove the road signs on the roads in any Western country for example because the people of these countries are evolved and able to be accountable to themselves and others out of their own inner capacities. None of them would allow this because they know that their people are not up to this challenge. They all have the physical attributes to steer, accelerate, brake and so on. Where are their inner capacities to do all this out of themselves in freedom? The road markings seem to have the real impact still; a rule driven from outside of them.
We need to be deeply concerned with our inner capacities, what they are, how we can become conscious of them and how we can strengthen them. This starts with how we parent, how we care and our concern for the healthy childhood of our children.
On a personal note, I have deep respect for the parking bay lines in the parking area, for what they achieve in guiding human behaviour by just being there.