"Drive Way" of a House 街面上劃出的「車道（Drive Way）」
You may or may not have seen this kind of "Drive Way" in relatively "busy" cities in the US. In these areas, many houses don't have a garage; but only have some parking space for one or two cars outside, with a "Drive Way" marked on the street to let people know that nobody should park on the “drive way” to block the parking spots of the houses.
I am now living in exactly such a place. I was fortunately enough to have secured the only parking spot of a two-level house; whilst the tenants on the second floor were not as lucky.
One day I was suddenly approached by someone in the neighborhood. He said that he had a "complicated" matter to discuss with me. I asked what that was; he said, "Hm… I am wondering whether you could rent your parking spot to me." He said he ran a plumbing business in the local area, and needed a parking space for his relatively bigger van.
I said, "I'm afraid not, as I also need to park my car; and the spot is only for one car. "
He said, "Look, as you have the parking spot, the drive way is also yours. How about I take your parking spot and you park on the drive way?"
I said, "It seems you need a resident permit to park on the street、、."
He said, “I know, I know. You just need to go to such and such a place with your drive license and apply for one."
He then gave me very detailed instructions as to where that place located; and offered to pay more than the market price.
But I was still hesitating: "How often do you need to drive in and out? With my car blocking your way, how are you going to drive in & out?"
"Maybe I text you each time I need to drive in & out?"
I thought to myself, "Oh, no, that is no good.” But seeing that he seemed really desperate to have a parking space, I said, "Well, let me consider."
I did consider for two days. Then I figured maybe the only "doable" way was for me to give him a copy of my car key and let him move my car around whenever he needed. And the only problem was, “What if he drives my car away and never comes back、、."
Then I shook my head and drove this doubt away (knowing that I had insurance anyway). I texted him by saying that I decided to accept his proposal; and that I would give him my car key for him to move my car when needed.
When I gave him my car key, he looked a little bit moved and said, "Thank you for your trust. I won't let you down." He then gave me a check and paid for one month, without asking for a receipt. Neither of us bothered to talk about signing any agreement either.
Two weeks later, he suddenly texted me and said that he had found a parking space nearer to his house; and that he wouldn't need my parking spot any more. I thought to myself, "Shall I return half of his rent to him as he only used it for two weeks? Or shall I not, as we already had a deal in which he agreed to pay month by month?"
I didn't know the answer. But as he didn't ask me to pay back half of his rent, this matter soon “dropped off” from my mind.
Several days later, I suddenly thought to myself, since the parking space is so "hot”, why don't I find another "tenant"?
I really put up an ad to the Internet, and got a response on the following day. This time it was a very young man in his twenties. I explained to him the "complicated" situation; and it didn't bother him. He chose to park on the drive way as he needed to drive in and out very frequently, and agreed to give me his car key for me to move his car when needed.
He also immediately paid for one month, then disappeared completely for two weeks.
Two weeks later, he suddenly texted me by saying that he would arrive between 8:30 pm and 9:00 pm to park his car, and would give me his car key.
When he arrived, he explained to me that he had been back to another state to move all his stuff to his new apartment, which was 10 blocks away; and now everything had been sorted out. He then gave me his car key and walked away.
For people who grew up in the US, perhaps all these are "business" as usual. But as someone who grew up in Mainland China, I found myself starting to ponder, "Why had he chosen to pay two weeks earlier than he actually needed the space? If he had asked me to hold it for him; and only start to pay when he actually parked here, I would have surely agreed."
Then it struck me that for Americans, they might have never "calculated" things this way. But for us Chinese, calculating and bargaining carefully have almost become our second nature, even for a very "uncalculating" person like me.
I remember that in my childhood, I was once lashed very harshly by my angry father with a feather duster made of rattan, because I refused to go to the market to buy vegetable. I was about 10 at that time, old enough to run errands for the family. So how dared I refuse? He just couldn't work out, especially I was usually very obedient, not rebellious at all.