Straight up, Hamilton your parking is appalling
It's peak hour at Dinsdale Countdown as a hungry shopper whizzes around the carpark.
She lines up her car and zips into the white lines. Except she misses. Now taking up two coveted parks near the entrance of the store, she disappears inside without a backward glance to observe her handiwork.
It's a common sight on the streets of Hamilton and it's time we faced the truth: Hamilton is home to some terrible parkers.
Passrite Hamilton driving instructor Mike Simpson says it's something he sees everyday.
One of his students once parked on top of the curb right after he hit the car in front. It's just one of the horror stories in his memory bank, but he still doesn't think it's a lack of skillset to blame. It's our general attitude.
"Most of them [parkers] are just on a mission, they're in such a hurry," he said.
Columnist Paul Barlow reckons being in a hurry is no excuse.
"People think they are busier than they are.
"It's a two-second job to correct it," he said.
Mr Barlow regularly takes pictures of badly parked cars and posts them to a Facebook page titled: Your Parking is Bad and You Should Feel Bad.
Since April, he has posted more than 100 pictures of poorly parked cars.
"I'm not a fan of the way Hamiltonians park," he said.
"I'm admittedly more passive aggressive in that I'd rather take a picture and put it online and embarrass them that way than confront them."
Although it can just be an annoyance to other drivers, bad parking does really have a cost.
The Times' Facebook readers had some strong views and sent in some superb examples of appalling parking. "Some people you can never teach to park a car, or drive," said Suzanne Doris Green.
"I can park anywhere, fit into any tight spot or funky angle," said Mandy Suess.
"Getting it out is a completely different story."
In the period February 2013 to January 2014, State Insurance received more than 300 "damaged while parked" claims in Hamilton.
The total cost of these claims was just short of $500,000, with the average cost per claim about $1400.
They don't include the claims that were received from drivers who hit something while they were in the act of parking.
State spokeswoman Melanie Roberts said the most common parking prangs claimed for were supermarket car park accidents when both cars were reversing and hit each other, or when a reversing car hit another parked car and/or neighbours hit each other's parked cars in shared driveways or on the street.
"We don't believe these accidents are a reflection of bad driving, more about people being distracted."
AA national driver training manager, Karen Dickson, said it was always a bit of a laugh when she came across someone who hadn't been taught to park, and those people came from every walk of life.
"When we teach people who are even adults - and I'm talking twenties, thirties, forties - how to parallel park they say ‘Oh my gosh you're making my life so much better because I don't have to keep driving around the block to avoid parallel parking'."
But not all hope is lost, Mrs Dickson said.
Parallel parking has now become a mandatory part of the restricted licence test, so the next generation coming through have a leg up on their elders.
Whether it will have any impact on all of the other awful parking habits is another matter. firstname.lastname@example.org