4:12 PM PDT, April 30, 2021
Some of us have personal goals like completing a marathon, losing weight or maybe kicking caffeine for good, but for Gareth Wild, his goal was to park in every single spot at his local grocery store — all 211 of them. He pulled it off, and it only took him six years to fill every space with his car at the local Sainsbury’s in his London suburb of Bromley.
Sounds a bit bonkers for some, but, for the 39-year-old production director, who was the first to admit that he had a little time on his hands, it was a game that he created by way of a spreadsheet and Google Maps, since most of us would agree that going to the supermarket is not exactly the most exciting of tasks.
“After quite a few years of going each week I started thinking about how many of the different spots I’d parked in and how long it would take to park in them all. My life is one long roller coaster, “ Wild wrote on his Twitter with a picture of a satellite view of the car-park and colorful graphics and diagrams.
“I used the overhead view to mark out a vector image to make it easier to identify each space. The orange boxes dotted around the car park are trolley bays, the black space is an irregular-shaped patch which is too small for a car and is therefore void and then there are a number of family, disabled and a motorcycle bays,” he wrote.
Wild let followers in on his thought processes, explaining that since he doesn’t own a motorcycle and is not disabled, he does have children, which means that he could legitimately use the family spaces, which is how he came up with the number 211.
After he conquered the challenge, he told the New York Times, “When you’re going there it’s generally quite a banal thing, so at least you’ve got something to keep you entertained,” he said. He then explained that he used the Google Maps satellite rather than manually counting the parking spaces on foot, which he said might have given off a “weird vibe.”
“I quickly identified the ones that were in high demand,” he said, and planned to seek those out first. “The ones that were never being used, I wanted to save those for last so I wasn’t bottlenecking my approach.”
He kept followers in the loop.
During the challenge, he even posted some helpful tips like “the best and worst spots to park” and which spaces to “avoid.” such as “the spots next the trolley bays” which he said are “just terrible.” He even shared news updates like the time someone backed out of the space too quickly and knocked over a man walking behind the car. “In a flash, the guy was up and livid,” he reported.
His updates and graphics were quite entertaining, drawing attention from many like his wife, who gave him unwavering support. “She encourages the weird projects like this. She knows that it keeps me entertained.” And his parents, he said, appeared doubly supportive. “They’ve always known I like doing daft projects, so they’re always behind me.”
His“magnum opus” as he called it on Twitter even drew the attention of some media organizations, including the BBC and The Guardian.
Wild described “the process” as a “very calm” exercise that was a particularly welcome respite from the panic of the pandemic, but admitted that when it was over he experienced a “real hollowness.”
Nevertheless, the positive feedback he received made up for it, he said.
His only regret, he said was not collecting more photos or details during the process, he told the Times.
He’s not sure when his next “spreadsheet” adventure will be but for now, what he does know is that he’s “probably done with car parks.”