Shopping centre car parks are a great place to go and write. They used to be better when you were truly severed from the internet out there in the middle of an acre or ten of tarmac. But since the advent of the smartphone and the ability to tether the old laptop to it and its 4Gness, it takes real commitment to not just “check one fact out quickly” and end up watching F1 crashes from the 1960s for two hours.
It’s about minimising or eliminating distraction, so my process involves throwing the phone in the boot of the car and parking way down the deserted end of the lot, facing a shrub or wall where nothing can get my attention, except the odd scavenging gull or crow who lands on the roof and tries to intimidate me into offering up a corner of the tuna sandwich it knows I have stashed inside. Even so, it doesn’t take long for some snooping security guard or driver to curb-crawl past wondering what the hell I’m up to.
Which is when I get to wondering.
What if a car pulled up behind me and sat there, engine running, as if waiting for me to move? Even though I’m flanked by dozens, if not hundreds, of empty spots. I get out to see what the story is with this dude and learn that the driver insists this is his space. I don’t see a sign on the wall or his name painted on the ground, but he says he staked a claim to this space some time ago, and that it is his preferred place to park. Seeing a glint of something maniacal in his eye, I concede and move my car, only to find him following me in my rear view mirror to the next space I want to occupy. After another short exchange, we repeat the process until I realise the only way to get rid of this headcase is to cut my losses and leave the car park altogether. Except he keeps following me, all the way to my house, the door of which he knocks on a few minutes after I let myself in, wondering who I am and why I am in his house.
Sounds like there’s some kind of story there to be told, doesn’t there? Something familiar in there too, but then it’s up to me to spin it somewhere weird and wonderful, isn’t it? Hmmm.