For many years my parents struggled with people parking in front of their driveway at the Jersey Shore.
They live one block from the beach and visitors coming down for the day would try to squeeze huge cars into impossibly small spaces.
The issue resolved itself after the curb was painted yellow for a few feet on either side of the driveway, an indication parking wasn’t allowed.
It was amusing to watch people pull up and try to wedge into tiny slots only to notice they were over the line. With no argument, they would drive away.
The power of that yellow line was incredible.
Only years later did I learn that the yellow stripes weren’t put there by town officials.
My dad had painted the curb to solve the problem.
I was incredulous when I found out.
“Is that allowed?” I asked him.
It would never have occurred to me that you could just paint the curb yourself.
I would have stewed for years and maybe called the police who would have done nothing. I would have yelled at drivers. There would have been so much pointless anger.
And all of that was avoided with a can of yellow paint and a brush.
It made me wonder how many opportunies in life we overlook because someone has marked them as unavailable.
There are so many literal or metaphysical “no parking” signs that prevent us from pursuing dreams.
I remember taking my son to the beach one September after the season. He was just old enough to read and he realized there was a sign that said “no swimming without guard.”
I told him it was ok because his grandfather had been a lifeguard.
“Grampa isn’t here,” he responded.
“He taught me everything he knows,” I answered.
He looked at me skeptically. The sign said no swimming. It was a rule. There are good reasons for rules and you are not supposed to break them.
On the other hand, there are people who figure out how to bend the rules.
Dad told me that there is a guy who parks around the corner on Memorial Day and leaves his car there all summer until Labor Day. He fills it with beach towels and chairs and rafts. It’s effectively a bathhouse.
That guy has figured out how to park within the lines and live outside them at the same time.
(Part of a series based on conversations with my parents about life hacks.)