Why am I the one who feels guilty?

One of the best things about the Honda Fit is that I can park in about 33% more spots than I used to be able to when I had the Malibu. If you live in the suburbs you probably don’t care, but if you live in the city, you can appreciate that this has basically revolutionized my life. This alone was worth the price of a new car.

Often I will be driving through a full parking lot, and I’ll see two hulking SUVs crowded the lines of their respective spots, making the spot in between too narrow for most cars. I squeeze in there and hop out, giving a smile and a wave to all the other SUV vultures circling the lot, swearing and shaking their fists at me.

This exact scenario happened at the kids’ school the other day (minus the swearing and fish shaking), and it wasn’t until I was already parked that I realized it was a “fuel efficient vehicle” spot. I actually felt guilty for a minute, and went to back out of the spot. Then I had a moment of clarity.

Here I am parking my tiny subcompact in the shadow of these monster trucks, and I feel guilty because I don’t have a “hybrid” sticker on the back? Even with the hybridization, I get better fuel economy than they do. When we bought the Fit, we made a conscious decision to buy a car that most people said we could never fit in. All the guy with the hybrid Porsche SUV did was pay extra money. Which one of us is sacrificing more for Mother Earth? And yet, I bet he didn’t worry about taking the “fuel efficient vehicle” spot.

I understand that not everybody can get a subcompact (although I still argue a lot more could then would admit it). The most efficient vehicle is the one that is as small as possible to do the job that it needs to do. A 15 passenger van is more efficient than driving the family in 3 separate cars. But how to label the parking spots in a way that’s fair? MPG per person? A 20 page explanation on who qualifies in which situations stapled to the sign? I don’t know.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep parking in the “fuel efficient vehicle” spot. Guilt free.

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