Originally published by The Spinoff.
Shoppers found themselves stuck in their cars as they tried to leave the Newmarket Westfield carpark last weekend. The queue lasted three hours, and one woman unfortunately pissed herself in her boyfriend’s car. “Not ideal,” he said, “but desperate times call for desperate measures.”
We cannot all expect our car companions to be so understanding. Here are some helpful tips so that this doesn’t happen to you.
Don’t give up your space until you’re ready
Christmas shopping at the mall inevitably comes with hectic wait times. But if you’re not in a rush, have a scope of the queue before leaving your parking space, because you won’t be getting it back. You’ll likely know immediately whether or not you should use the bathroom first, and if it’s really bad, just go back inside and see a movie or eat some butter chicken or sing karaoke in one of those buzzy little rooms.
There’s so much food in the mall, so if you’re willing to enter the queue, pick up some snacks on your way out. Maybe even a book or some meditation cards.
Consider taking public transport to the mall
Public transport may not be the most reliable or convenient way to get to the mall, but at least the bus or train is unlikely to get stuck in the car park. If your train is in the carpark, you probably have more pressing things on your mind than how long you’ll be stuck there.
Ride your bike (or hire an e-scooter)
If you can’t fit all your shopping in your backpack or bike bags, re-assess who in your life really deserves a present and return items as needed.
Shop at a different mall
Newmarket and Sylvia Park are the biggest malls, and therefore are the most likely to have the chaotic parking situations. If you have a general idea of which store you need to go to and there’s a branch at a smaller mall, go there instead. An extra 20-minute drive is still a lot less time than three hours.
Carpool or Uber
It’s just maths. Fewer cars means a shorter queue. And while Uber might not seem like the natural choice for Christmas shopping, it doesn’t require a park. If you carpool, it means you can take toilet breaks without leaving your car unattended with the engine on.
While malls are helpful in that they collate many different kinds of stores and services in one location, take this as a sign to explore your local offerings. What’s that random shadowy store next to the supermarket that may or may not sell kitchenware? Time to find out!
The very internet you are using to read this tip also allows you to get any number of items and services available at a mall delivered right to your house. And you’re very unlikely to get stuck in a car park unless you are accessing the internet from that very same car park.
Abandon your car
Look, not all of these choices are necessarily financially sound ones. But I, personally, would not want to own a car that had directly led to the trauma of being stuck in a car park. Leave it, and your bad memories behind.