Like most people who have lived and driven in this country long enough, I have a rabid dislike of searching for parking spots anywhere. When I was working at the magazine and had to attend events held in malls, I would arrive at the mall a full hour early just to give myself enough time to find a parking spot, especially if the events were held in the middle of the day. And I always try to park in the same corner of the parking lot because I’m terrified I will forget where I parked and have to walk up and down the stifling basement looking for my car.
I think I inherited this obsessive-compulsive attitude towards parking from my mother. We both leave the house and arrive early just to look for a parking spot. We both like to reverse into our spots with the passenger’s side window an inch away from a pillar, just so there’s room to open the driver’s door and get out comfortably enough — and also because we don’t trust anyone to not park too close to our cars. And, when we find a spot on the very first try going around the parking lot, we both declare, “I was destined to come here!”
And so it was that when I had to make yesterday’s Kelip shipment and Mail Boxes Etc in Desa Sri Hartamas told me they were out of Poslaju agent forms, I decided to go to the Mail Boxes Etc branch in Plaza Damas and make my shipment there. But at the last minute, put off by the long line of cars waiting at the traffic light intersection that cuts across Hartamas, I decided to take my chances at the 1 Mont’ Kiara branch instead, which I wasn’t too keen on because I’m not familiar with that mall at all, having only been there two or three times in my life. But when I got into the mall’s basement parking lot and found a spot almost immediately, I thought to myself, I was destined to come here!
It didn’t seem too significant at the time; I toyed with the idea that if I was destined to be at 1 Mont’ Kiara yesterday, perhaps I would finally be able to find bathroom signs for the restaurant after scouring vintage interior decor stores in malls for the past week. I soon realized that the restaurant’s bathrooms will have to remain genderless for the time being, so I decided to leave the mall and head back to TREC.
As I walked through the parking lot towards my car, frantically replying messages from people who were asking about the restaurant, I sensed a car slowing down next to me. I ignored it, figuring that if it was someone who wanted my parking spot, they were free to tail me for as long as they pleased. And then I heard the sound of a car window sliding down, and a voice I still recognized saying in an accent I know so well, “Hiiiii good morniiiing!” from the passenger seat.
Looking back on it now, and even as I drove out of 1 Mont’ Kiara immediately after, I don’t remember exactly what happened. In that second-long encounter, several things occurred all at once: I may have jumped a little and I think I rolled my eyes slightly. But the two things I remember with stark clarity are that familiarly annoying but endearing cackle of laughter from the driver’s seat, and my own heart skipping a beat.
Just when you think you’re safe, someone literally drives by and reminds you that in a city as small as this, safety in all forms is an unheard-of luxury.