By Michele Alperin

Every time I use Spring Street Garage, the flagrant disregard drivers display for the needs, and yes, even the existence, of the other drivers sharing the lot, makes me crazy.

People treat the roadway through the garage as a one-way street—in the direction they are driving, of course—so they drive a little too fast and always close to dead center of the space available.

Particularly scary is the way people round the corners. Rather than assuming that someone just might be coming from the other direction and driving accordingly, the great majority of drivers continue driving down the center (essentially claiming ownership while blissfully ignoring the safety of others).

Each time I reach a turn, I’m on the lookout: Will someone turn widely on an uphill turn or tightly on a downhill one, or just make it easy for themselves and take up the whole space?

Even if you’re trying to drive carefully, the garage can seem like an obstacle course—particularly when people who back in their cars don’t take care to go all the way back, or when they simply drive behemoths that don’t fit.

Sometimes my experiences in the garage leave me despairing about how our society functions.

People don’t seem to care about anything beyond their immediate convenience—blinding them to the needs of the other, at least in the garage.

Empathy, I think, is a key to a healthy, diverse society. But it is not necessarily something that comes naturally. It’s a sensitivity that people need to develop, that enables them to look beyond themselves.

So I challenge the people who park in the Spring Street Garage to use the opportunity to cultivate a sense of social responsibility, to broaden their vision to include the driver who may be invisible, but is just around the corner.

Michele Alperin is a long-time resident of Princeton. She has written for articles for numerous publications, including the Princeton Echo and its sister paper U.S. 1.

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