DEAR MISS MANNERS: I live in a crowded area and parking is a hot topic. My car was parked in my driveway, and as I was loading stuff into the back, a person drove up and asked, "Are you leaving now?" I said, "This is my driveway," and repeated it a few times, adding, "I'm the only one who can park here."
I was honestly confused. They explained that they were asking my permission to park in front of the driveway "for five minutes," which is illegal. I kind of see the logic, but I want to be able to leave my driveway whenever I feel like it. Also, I have no power to allow anyone to park illegally (or to commit any other crime).
I ended up saying "fine," just to be done with it.
Were they wrong in asking me that favor? What should I have said? I honestly didn't need to leave during that five minutes, but it still bothers me.
GENTLE READER: Presuming you were not being asked to assist in a bank robbery incidental to the parking violation, the etiquette question seems, to Miss Manners, to be more interesting than the legal one.
Given her area of expertise, this is fortunate.
The driver asked for a favor. This is not a breach of etiquette, nor is it one you cannot decline if you wish. These days she assumes that anyone, at any moment, could truthfully say, "I'm sorry, I can't, I'm expecting a package." But if that is not the case, there is always, "I need it clear for the next hour."