Small Gesture of Parking Courtesy Rewarded with Generous Gift of Artisanal Canned Tuna


It was the kind of gesture that would come naturally to any proper Citizen of Bernalwood: The parking space in front of my home was available, and a blue Volkswagen station wagon was attempting to park there. But there was a glitch.

My car was parked right behind the Volkswagen, so to avoid bashing my front bumper, the Volkswagen driver left a big gap between their car and mine. Much appreciated, but as a result the nose of the Volkswagen crossed into the red-painted curb that marks the entrance to my next-door neighbor’s driveway. And she really doesn’t like that.

I gestured to the driver. “Hey,” I said. “You might want to back up a little bit. You can nudge my car, but my neighbor doesn’t like it when people park in the red zone.”

A great wave of relief flashed across the Volkswagen driver’s face, as if a deep source of anxiety had suddenly been erased. And so it was done: The Volkswagen backed up another foot or two, its rear bumper gently smooched the front of my car, and the red curb zone was cleared. Parking optimization complete!


I might have ended there, but the female passenger in the Volkswagen — a woman who, it must be said, bore a rather conspicuous resemblance to Carrie Brownstein from Portlandia — emerged from the vehicle and thanked me for helping them avoid a day-ruining parking ticket.

“Do you eat canned tuna?” she asked.

What?? Of course I eat canned tuna. Still, I advised her that I already have several cans of tuna on my pantry shelves, thankyouverymuch.

She was undaunted. “But this is very special canned tuna! We’re from Seattle, and we canned this tuna ourselves!” She pointed to the driver of the Volkswagen. “He caught it on his boat!”

Artisanal cans of tuna? With tuna from his boat? Right here in front of my house in Bernal Heights? Is this really happening? Have I become a character in a bourgeois urban parody?

She handed me two cans of tuna. “Eat it with the water in the can. It tastes best that way.”

The cute label identified it as Carol M Albacore tuna, containing tuna caught aboard the f/v Carol M:


This was also written on the label:

Carol M premium handpacked tuna was caught for you off the coast of Washington and Oregon. Cooked once in its own juices, it has a look and flavor you won’t soon forget. Wild Pacific Troll caught albacore is a highly sustainable fishery that complies with Marine Stewardship Council Certification, so enjoy this can with a guilt-free conscience. Captain Mike and our boat cat Florence also recommend you don’t drain the juice — it’s the best part! So from our boat to your table, enjoy!



I accepted the cans, and the Volkswagen remained in front of my house for another day.

Several days after that, I sampled the merchandise. The tuna was delicious and  guilt-free — just as promised.  And she was right: It tasted wonderful with the water in the can.

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29 Responses to Small Gesture of Parking Courtesy Rewarded with Generous Gift of Artisanal Canned Tuna

  1. Natanya says:

    What a great story!!
    So the natural question is: where can we commoners but some?? Will it be for sale??

  2. Terrific story and a hilarious Freudian slip that reminds me I still think like a teenage boy at times:

    “Of course I eat canned tuna. Still, I advised her that I already have several cans of tuna on my panty shelves, thankyouverymuch.”

  3. drshoe says:

    Great feel-good story. Thanks so much for the hump day smile!

  4. shelley peery says:


  5. contrarycomet says:

    Great story. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Brandon says:

    I’m no fisherman, but do they mean “Wild Pacific *Trawl* caught” rather than “Troll caught”? I mean, it would be a special kind of awesome if their boat is crewed by wild Pacific trolls, but it seems too good to be true.

    • Todd_Lappin says:

      Ha! I checked the can, and that’s not a typo on my part. Actually says that.

      • Brandon says:

        Yep, I noticed it on the can before I read your quote of it. I guess if the internet can have trolls, so can the Pacific.

    • Eric Pease says:

      troll: to fish with line and hook

      • Brandon says:

        I wonder about the etymology of that considering that “trawl” appears to be a synonym. Which came first?

      • lovelybunny says:

        Actually they’re not synonyms. To trawl is to drag a large net behind your boat in hopes of trapping fish (and whatever else). It’s a good way to get some dolphin in your tuna. To troll is to drag a fishing line with a baited hook behind your boat, hoping for a bite.

      • Brandon says:

        Thanks for the lesson!

  7. Janet T says:

    Cute story Todd……even if I am allergic to tuna.
    But that was cool story…. thanks for sharing. Yes parking in Bernal remains at a premium.

  8. shrinkrap305 says:

    Love the story and the typos!

  9. Steve Sisler says:

    I think this may one story without controversy. I like nice people.

  10. Neighbor Samantha says:

    Nice people good. :)

  11. Jesse Goober says:

    Todd, your the best!!! here on the west side of Santa Cruz, but I look forward to and offer up your site to my neighborhood group email…the tone you set not to mention your writing skills are always tops… Happy Trails.

  12. Jaime says:

    What a nice story. Thank you.
    Incidentally I was looking for a parking space the other day and noticed that most of the driveways have those red SFPD spots on them consequently severely limiting the available parking spaces. When did that happen? I can understand why some are painted but others
    seem purchased purely because they can. Not very neighborly.

    • RonMonster says:

      It’s because some people don’t obey the law and make it hard for dwellers (renters & owners) to enter their driveways.

      • Jaime says:

        i don’t know. i’ve lived here for over 30 years and although there were occasional parking issues few resorted to paying DPT for a 2ft red – no parking edge to their driveways. Parking is tough as it is in this neighborhood,so to see a perfectly good parking space surrounded by these signs thereby making them unfit for anything but a smart car or motorcycle i think is selfish.
        Having them painted because of failing eyesight is understandable

    • oldster says:

      I paid to have the red bits painted because as I aged, I developed a vision problem, and can’t back out of my garage with only inches of leeway. It also discourages people from parking in my driveway.

  13. micheleg says:

    I like this story. A lot.

  14. CJ says:

    A “good news” story about parking? Only in Bernal-love it! Thanks-

  15. erin says:

    Please remember that vehicles without bumpers will not have cans of tuna for those that “kiss” them.

    Motorcycles <3 Bernal

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