I saw a funny thing in the parking garage yesterday. Some jerk had parked his giant truck exactly how I’d expect a jerk with a giant truck to park, and some poor kid in a compact car was struggling to wiggle in through his driver’s side door. I’d say about two inches at most separated the front passenger’s side door of the truck from the driver’s side door of the car. The kid didn’t have a chance. A nine-year-old couldn’t have squeezed in without climbing on the roof and rolling down the window.
The compact car was parked perfectly between the lines, whereas the truck was at a severe angle. It was pretty obvious why its jerk-owner parked it that way. Had he parked properly in the spot, he would’ve been the one unable to get in or out. A large column would have blocked part of his gigantic door. It wasn’t a suitable spot for his vehicle, and I guess he didn’t want to drive up another story and look some more. Rather than inconvenience himself, he massively inconvenienced someone else.
If that had been all I’d seen, I wouldn’t think twice about it. People park badly all the time. In fact, I’ve probably found myself having to enter from the passenger’s side on half a dozen occasions in that same garage over the past several years. What made this situation different was what I saw as I walked past the truck. The kid gave up trying to get in, walked over to the front driver’s side tire of the truck, and knelt down. I continued walking to my car and got in.
After making a couple of quick calls, I drove past the giant truck on my way out. There was no longer a compact car next to it. Instead, both of its enormous driver’s side tires were mostly deflated, and it leaned a foot or two toward the driver’s side. It probably leaned just enough for the kid with the compact car to squeeze between the vehicles, though not enough for the body of the truck to lean on the column and cause any damage. I exited the parking garage feeling like I’d seen more justice done in a few minutes there than I’ve seen in half a decade of handling cases in Arizona’s criminal courthouses. Then I became depressed.
The problem is that the state has a monopoly on “justice,” though it never achieves anything close. Successful vigilantes, like that kid may be, are prosecuted zealously. Power hates competition, especially effective competition.
Although the kid didn’t slash the tires or damage the truck, they would charge him with criminal damage for recklessly tampering with the truck so as substantially to impair its function. They would charge him with disorderly conduct for engaging in seriously disruptive behavior with the intent to disturb the peace or quiet of the truck’s owner. Just for good measure, they’d throw in a criminal nuisance charge for recklessly creating a condition which endangered the safety of that jerk who parked too close.
The kid’s necessity defense would be a tough thing to sell to one of Arizona’s strict law-and-order judges. Would a reasonable person be compelled to act the way the kid did? The court would pretend there was a reasonable alternative, and maybe there was. For someone important. Someone who matters to garage employees and has powerful friends, many of whom are cops.
As for me, if that kid did in fact deflate the truck’s tires to enable him to get into his own little car, I hope he gets away with it. He’s my new hero, and I hope that jerk with the truck learned his lesson.