I recently stumbled across an Icelandic Facebook group, called “Verst Lagði Bílinn” that has caught my attention. In English it’s approximately, “The Worst-Parked Car” and contains hundreds of posts with images of cars parked in all sorts of strange spots. As a prime example, take a look at this one parked right in the middle of two handicapped spots:
Based on this Facebook group, it seems that most Icelanders have no clue how to park correctly. You see cars taking up two spaces, halfway on the shoulder or the sidewalk, so close to other cars that neither one can squeeze through to open their doors.
I was surprised this was such a big deal in Iceland because people try to get away with all sorts of illegal parking here in the States. The only difference between the United States and Iceland is that tickets are handed out like they’re candy here, while Iceland apparently doesn’t do much for these silly offenders. Every day at school in the States I see tickets lined up on the windshields of cars parked in tow-away zones. If you managed to find a way to park (like the car in the top left picture) taking up three lanes, you can bet you’ll be fined a good amount of money. Based on some articles I read through Icelandic news websites it appears that authorities are more concerned with those who surpass their parking meter time than those who park like uncoordinated children. A writer for the Reykjavík Grapevine wrote a concerned article about this matter,
“I tried Googling the price of a ticket for illegal parking plus towing fee. It seems to add up to around 30.000 ISK. Looking out my kitchen window, I can already see 60.000 ISK worth of uncollected community money. If I were to walk to the end of my street that amount could reach 150.000 ISK.”
To get a small idea of this comparison, 30,000 ISK for a ticket plus towing seems to be at about 275 US Dollars. 150,000 ISK is roughly 1,375 USD. Based on the rest of this article, it seems that parking ridiculously is all but a joke. An Icelander once sent a picture to me of his car parked right in the middle of two spots, and blamed it on an ongoing war between himself and his friend to see who could be a bigger “tool.” (“Tool” being a slang word to most likely characterize someone stupid or socially inept, according to modern usage). I can assume that I will probably get shit from this fellow Icelander after he realizes I mentioned him in a negative light, but it isn’t like Americans are any different with this on occasion. I even saw the “Worst-parked car” Facebook group as a joke until I realized that there was a serious issue that was surfacing behind it. Back to that Grapevine article for an example of this:
“It is not uncommon to see people pushing a stroller crossing to the other side of the street because of a car parked on the sidewalk, while in such a situation, a person in a wheelchair is left to their own fate.”
This article was written in 2011, but today it still seems like a just as much of a problem, considering all the posts that arise in “Verst Lagði Bíllinn” about this.
One thing with regards to parking that I found interesting in Iceland is the use of parking lines as boxes instead of three sided spaces, like the image on the left. I’m sure this occurs in many places all over the world, but I cannot remember a single parking box like this in the United States. It’s almost restricting, especially where I live in Texas, because we have a population run by giant trucks that would spill right out of those boxes. It seems amusing that Icelanders are given that extra line and still manage to stray out of it.
Since this was a post less than dedicated to the Icelandic language, I thought I’d throw in a word to ingrain into your short yet growing list of icelandic vocabulary. I stumbled upon the word “vagn” in the novel Englar Alheimsins the other day and did a little research on it. I found this particular post that seemed amusing considering that fact that at the time I had no idea what a “sleeping car” was:
The word is a combination of svefn (sleep) and vagn (vehicle). Before I realized that a sleeping car was a railway passenger car intended for accommodation, I decided to relate it to the many sleeping cars of Reykjavík Iceland and beyond, who seemed to roll right out of their beds during slumber and into the many unoccupied beds that we call parking spaces.
But hey, the parking situation surely can’t be as bad as it is in Russia, can it?