The Key West Mystique

Key West Island News


Key West Island News connects Key West residents and friends of the island, fosters our One Human Family culture and advances understanding of shared goals for our island community

Is there a reason you had to park in front of my gate?

By Linda Grist Cunningham, editor and proprietor

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of Key West Island News and KeyWestWatch Media LLC. She and her husband, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with their Cat 5s.


Few things are less important nor more irritating than coming home from Publix and finding a shiny, super-sized pickup truck with raised suspension, a crew cab, extended bed and over-sized tires parked smack in front of my gate. Or a mini-beater on its last hurrah for that matter. Or a scooter.

Is there a reason you had to park in front of my gate?

Full disclosure: See that picture above? Just so you know, there’s no one in front of my gate today. Or not yet anyway.

I live on a one-way street with no sidewalks to speak of, which makes our block wider than most on the island. We’re mostly locals with no cars, or maybe one. I mention that because unlike most Key West neighborhood streets, we generally don’t play musical chairs with parking. Most of the time, we just pull up in front of the house. It’s a rare day when I get to practice three-point parking skills.

Which is why I am confounded by that vehicle in front of the gate. It’s not like there weren’t half a dozen parking spots right behind you. All open; none in front of anyone’s gate. Or another two on the other side of the street in front of a clearly vacant house. At the very least, back up three feet so I can get out without having to crawl over your car.

It happens so often that perhaps there’s a magnet that draws you inexorably to that one sweet spot. I can’t imagine you’re doing it on purpose. Right?

In fact, I know you’re not doing it on purpose. You’re mindless. I know this because occasionally I walk out to the gate while you’re perfecting your position as close to the curb as you can and I ask: “Would you mind backing up a bit so I can get out of the gate?” And, surprise registering in your eyes, you nod, smile and back it up.

If you’re a visitor to the neighborhood’s families, we know you and, regardless of where you park, we know you’ll not be long. But when you’re a “bar code person,” meaning you’ve got a rental car and are pretty much guaranteed to dump that car there for a week, I get testy.

Key West parking rules are pretty simple. Public streets; public parking. Move your car at least once every 24 hours. Stay out of resident-only spaces.

Technically I can’t stop you from parking in front of my gate. You’re parking on a public street. On most Key West streets blocking a walking gate is more an annoyance than a problem because the gate swings open onto the sidewalk, the vehicle is at the curb and there’s room to get out. Not so on streets with not much in the way of sidewalks. My gate opens onto the street so when you park there, I can usually wiggle around, but there’s no way to get my bike out.

Oh, well, enough said. I told you this was one of the least important things you could worry about today. A fleeting, perhaps irrational, irritation of the “first world problems” variety. I could be ranting about parking on Chicago side streets in the winter snow pile-ups. Now that’s a problem.

Have a great weekend, my friends. We are in Key West.

Originally published March 1, 2019; updated Jan. 13, 2020.





1 Comment

  1. Ryan

    I moved to Vietnam ?? eleven years ago. I don’t own a car, microwave, electric can opener or big screen TV, washing machine or dryer.

    I do drive a motorbike which I park in my living room. My cat uses it for his sofa.

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