I came across an interesting press release from Confused.com, a UK-based site for car insurance quotes. In their poll, they found that 56% of drivers who responded forget where they park. They obviously haven't employed the strategies that I have so that I know where my car is, especially when I go to the mall or are forced to park in Egypt somewhere. There's a reason that Disney people mover engineer gets on the squawk box and repeats where he picked you up from several times. I'm sure they're trying to cut down on wandering guests at midnight who don't have the foggiest clue where they parked.
To avoid the ignominy of wandering around the parking lot looking foolish for not finding your car right away, use these tips:
1. Shopping cart returns are your best friends! Shopping cart return receptacles are usually high visibility at stores. If you always park your car near one of those, you have at the very least, cut down your search area by 80%. When my children were younger, I would park near a cart return so that I could return my cart after I buckled the kids in the car. If I parked too far away from one, I could never leave them, so I would take the cart back and then buckle them in. It saved time - especially in cold Erie winters - to just park next to a return.
2. Flash the key fob. This works well, especially if you have a long range. You know your car horn like you know your cell phone's ring tone. Press the lock key so you get a blast and listen carefully for your car to lead you right to it. Panic alarm? Forget about it. Pushing that button to find your car is never an acceptable option.
3. Park in the same location every time. This is something that I do myself. If I go to the mall, I always park outside of the Sears. Even if I have to walk all the way to the other side of the mall to the JC Penneys. Why did I pick up this quirk? Because one time I spent a half an hour looking for my car in a mall parking lot. I'm convinced that all the good spots near the front of the stores aren't taken up by lazy people who don't want to walk. They're taken by people who can't find their car ever, so they troll around for half an hour to snag a spot up front, when they could have just parked and been in and out by then.
4. Ask the kids. Would it be horrible to admit that my daughter - even as a toddler - always knew where we parked? She thought it was a game at first, but as she got older, she realized that sometimes I just didn't know (see why I park at cart returns). "Now where did Mommy park the car?" She would dutifully point and we'd head off that direction.
Which brings me to number 5... which I hope I won't ever have to employ....
5. Cellphone picture? I don't have a smart phone that can take good pictures, but I imagine that taking a picture of your surroundings (such as any aisle markers) might not be a bad idea if you are often clueless about where you park. This tip might be a really good one to use at amusement parks though. At the end of the day wondering if you parked in Minnie, Donald, or Goofy might be too much to remember.