DEAR MISS MANNERS: I had an unfortunate encounter in a parking lot. When I got out of my car, the lady in the car next to me also got out, walked around her car, and physically placed herself in front of me to prevent me from leaving the space between the cars.
She then demanded that I allow her to open my driver’s door to make sure that my car had not dinged hers when I opened it. The passenger side of her car was, to the naked eye, totally free from scratches; anyone could see that my door had not scratched hers. But she would not get out of my way without my compliance.
The doors could touch each other, it turned out, but again, no dings or scratches at point of contact. She literally shoved her nose right up next to the car to examine her paint job, and had to admit that it was not scratched.
I had business inside, and when I came out, she was waiting for me, apparently to lecture me about my parking habits and demand to know if I worked at the business that owned the lot.
I advised her that if she did not want anyone touching her car, ever, she should leave it in her garage. Then I got in my car and drove off.
I now wish I had shut her down earlier, when she first demanded that I prove something that she could see for herself had not happened, but I don’t know how I could have done it within the bounds of civility. Is there a way I could have extracted myself without giving in to her intimidation tactics, even as much as I did?
GENTLE READER: Creating an implicit threat of bodily harm by not letting you pass is surely a greater infraction than potential damage to one’s car.
Miss Manners suggests that you point that out, thus switching the blame. “If you would like to get the police involved to reinforce that the car has not been damaged, that is your right. But I am afraid that if you continue to harass me by not letting me by, I will certainly have to involve them.”