The Little Red Car Phenomenon

Jerry Schuster  |   Tuesday Mar. 1st, 2016

Even if your attention span is very short, which it probably is, you have to read about this unusual Bozeman phenomenon. It will give you tremendous insight into the deepest of human foibles. Now, don’t skip to the denouement just to satisfy your curiosity at this point. Not fair, I spent considerable time writing this down, so read the whole piece.

This is the story of the Little Red Car. The story takes place at the Bozeman Deaconess parking lots, but you can transpose it to numerous other places, times or events if you wish. Thing is, this isn’t about cars or parking at all, but it might take you awhile to see the light. Go ahead, let your imagination roam, doesn’t bother me any.

There is something very strange about the parking situation at Bozeman Deaconess. Seems that no matter what time of the day or night you go there, the parking lots are full. There are lots of parking lots and they are always full. You go there morning, mid-day or night…full.

I came up with a theory about this observation and educed that the vehicles parked there don’t move. They are parked permanently just to have a parking place. I theorized that the people who own the vehicles actually commute to the facility by bus, Uber, or a ride with friends. About once a year or so, the owner moves the car to rotate the tires or renew the license. No oil change is needed since the engine hasn’t been running, but I would recommend a change every five years or so just to be safe. Besides, the battery might need charging. Bring jumper cables.

Now, since I knew ahead of time that you would be skeptical about this theory, I conducted a scientific study to prove it. Got you there. Here’s how it went. On three different occasions and at various times of the day and night, I went to Bozeman Deaconess. Then I chose ten vehicles at random and noted the make, color and license. This survey was repeated three times, about a month apart. Conclusion: vehicles did not move! Yes! Now, to be fair, since this was conducted by myself and has not been affirmed by other tests, the margin of error is 99.9987%.

You probably want to ask, why would anyone want to leave their vehicle permanently parked at this location? Very good question. The answer is that when asked about it, the owners can say with a straight face “Why I have no problem parking there!”
Here is where it gets interesting, so don’t quit reading yet. My appointment at Deaconess Clinic was at 1 o’clock, so I journeyed the mile from home early knowing that the hike required from parking to the Clinic would take awhile. Having extra time, I drove around the various parking lots to see if by luck some spot was open. On the lower lot, much to my surprise, I noticed a car pulling out of a space. Must have been time for its annual tire rotation. I moved briskly toward the now vacant parking spot and pulled out wide so as to get neatly into the cramped space. Just started to line up and….BOOM! A small red car appeared from around the corner, just missing my vehicle, and slipped into the space! I stopped, froze, and stared in complete disbelief. Who would do such a thing? I waited, but the driver would not look up or exit the vehicle. I honked the horn and waived my arms in a frenzy, but to no avail. I departed the lot, murmuring some nasty words and found my usual spot some 3.25 miles from the facility. Fortunately, my wife Theresa had made sure the car had emergency winter survival gear, such as food, water, a small tent, sleeping bag and back pack to carry it all for the journey by foot.

These types of phenomena are mainly about our attitudes towards others. We all live on this planet, so what’s wrong with a little respect for those occupying this time and place with us. These callous mores seem especially cavalier by Montana standards…the friendly people living under the Big Sky.

Here’s the gist of the Little Red Car Phenomenon before we move on to another example. Those who regularly practice it are saying by their actions:
• You are too old, stupid and slow moving for me; get out of the way
• I am important and deserve all privileges available, so just live with it
• sure fooled you old goat. Ha ha.

Since you still think this is about parking, here is another example as recently experienced by myself.


We went skiing at Bridger. The snow was good and there was a big crowd enjoying the slopes. During a lunch break, I went to the men’s room and found quite a line waiting to use the stall. Waited patiently…line moving, but slowly. Finally, my turn is up next and am I ready for it. I stepped forward in eager anticipation of relief and…BOOM! A young kid who had just entered the room dashed in front of me, entered the stall and locked the door. Collective howl of disbelief in the line! Oh, cried I, we just experienced the Little Red Car Phenomenon! The remaining line, in shock, reiterated…The Little Red Car Phenomenon…and a few other phrases not suitable for print.

When the youngster exited the stall, his goggles were down around his face, and a helmet covered his head. Could not be identified. I did stare into the darkened goggles with a look I would describe as apoplectic.

So, there it is folks. You probably get it by now, and if you don’t, more examples won’t help. Just get yourself another cup of tea, sit back and let the earth spin on its wobbly axis.

Changed my mind; I will not end this piece on a down tone. For those of you who would like to help make the world a better place, starting with our own community, there is this simple concept for living which works really well. Since there are those who apparently have never heard of it, or practiced it, I will set it forth here in plain language. It’s called “THE GOLDEN RULE : DO TO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO TO YOU. This also works: DO NOT DO TO OTHERS WHAT YOU WOULD NOT WANT DONE TO YOU.

Give it a try. Good. Now pass it around.  

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