Yeah, I know the rules. Yes, I know that I am not the active service member - my husband is. And no, I do not wear my husband’s rank on my collar.
The rank I proudly wear is: stay-at-home-mom, awesome wife, homeschooling parent, writer, hiker, pretty darned good cook, friend, Navy veteran and compulsive daydreamer.
But here’s the thing. I like good parking spaces. Be it at Target, the DMV, or even at the post office. While I am an advocate for healthy eating and fitness, an open parking spot right next to the building I am going to enter excites me.But there is a rank thing. Confession: while I wore my own Navy uniform a few years back (okay, more than a few), I hated stratification--the state of being divided into social classes.
As an E-5, I had few privileges (save for good pay and great benefits). I really disliked walking the long distances between the parking garages on base and the ship where I was stationed on.
E-7 individuals and above got nice little parking spots close to the ship. I understood that rank had its privileges, but still, I wasn’t a fan.
But now, I am a civilian. I love being that! I am so proud of my husband’s accomplishments. I am happy to know that my own Navy background helps me better understand my husband’s work and what comes with it.
If I was one of those people allowed to park in a special parking spot because of my service member's rank, I would park there. Not all wives would want to do that, I know. Not all service members would like to see that, and I understand that as well.
So, that got me to thinking. Are military spouses allowed to park in spots reserved for their active military spouses?
I didn’t know for sure, so I decided to find out. I Googled the question “Can Military Spouses Park in spots reserved for ranking service members?” and found one widely held opinion: most spouses are appalled at the suggestion that non-ranking members would park in parking spots meant for ranking service members.
I have to admit that I was surprised over the strong feelings on the matter. To me, it is just a parking spot - a convenient spot for a car to rest while someone is running errands. It does not mean that the non-ranking people who choose to park there believe that they are of rank.
Opinions and strong feelings aside, I still needed a concrete answer to my question. So, I decided to go straight to the source to find the answer - base security.
Over the phone, I reached an E-5 who answered my question. She said that she believed that spouses could park in the spots reserved for their spouses. However, belief is not fact.
Before I could prompt her to find a better answer, she put me on hold. After waiting for just a few moments, she came back on the phone and said that as long as the person parking in the spot could prove that he/she was married to a ranking service member (an ID card would suffice, I assume), that they could park there.
Ha! I had my answer. Spouses (at our base) can park in spots reserved for their ranking service member spouses.
So, would my new-found knowledge change my parking habits? No. Again, I am not married to a service member who merits his own parking spot. It would change what I said to other spouses on the matter.
But what kind of reception would that information receive? Bad stuff, I’m sure. I think that many “entitled” spouses would not park in the reserved spots in fear of the backlash they would get from other spouses and service members, too. Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t park in them either, just to dodge the backlash I would get from others.
However, my largest surprise in all of this was the reception I got from my husband. “You can’t park in a spot meant for someone of my rank,” he argued.
Ouch. I don’t wear his rank, and have never deigned to try to get special treatment because of it. Still, I challenged his stance with the evidence I’d accumulated so far. We argued some more.
He challenged my opinion by asking me if I thought that an O-6’s wife was better than me. I told him that I didn’t. He said that if I was okay with an O6 wife parking in an officer spot, that I thought she was better than me. I argued that she had a better parking spot - that was all.
So, we are at an impasse of sorts. Well, not really, as I my husband’s rank does not warrant him a special parking spot. Still, if it did, would I park in a parking spot meant for someone of his rank?
Sigh. I would not, because at the end of the day the opinion of the service member I married is the most important one.
Still, wait until we go to Target again and I am driving. The spouse had better have his hiking boots on, because he’ll be in for a long walk.
Cyndia Rios-Myers is a Navy wife, Navy veteran, stay-at-home-mom, and a homeschooling parent.