O Holy Night, the parking lot is madness

Bob and Steve, here.

We exited the Church amidst a hail of bullets. Bob broke right and Steve to the left. We kept moving and stayed low. Tracers, red and green, whizzed past our heads – a ballistic Christmas light show.

Steve dove behind the bell-tower for cover, narrowly missing being taken out by an Audi. It wasn’t long before a Land Rover SUV1 broadsided the tower – 10 tons of brass came crashing toward him in a deadly chorus of Carole of the Bells.

Flushed out of his cover, Steve was forced onto the tarmac–leaping, bending, twisting, between Fords and Subarus like some bizarre Yuletide game of Frogger.

Bob was busy creating a diversion, luring cars to get stuck in the grass, so women and children could scurry to safety.

Steve was starting to get the hang of parking lot Frogger and thinking he could easily make it to his car. Foolish pride– little did he know closing in on him from behind was the Silent Killer. The Prius was closing fast and would have taken him out if Bob hadn’t pushed him aside at the last moment and saved him from certain death.

Thus was our exit from Christmas Eve Mass. How it calls to mind the melodic strains of that Christmas classic:

O Holy Night, the parking lot is madness

This is the night when insurance shows its worth

As I leave the Church I hear the tires squealing

This is the night of our dear Savior’s birth???

Christmas is done. Decorations long put away. Lights taken down (hopefully). And New Year’s resolutions have come and gone.

But Easter is coming. And, as sure as God made little green apples, Christmas will come again (only 298 shopping days left!). So it’s as good a time as any to review Church parking lot safety.

We recommend a belt and suspenders approach. First, slow ‘em down exiting the Church so we don’t have everyone pouring into parking lot mayhem all at once. Second, slow ‘em down again once the vehicular-homicidalists are actually in their death machines.

Let’s take these in order, starting with slowing down the exit from Church.

Here we can take a cue from the geniuses of the silver screen. They discovered a way to keep us engaged until the end of the movie – which is by filling the movie with a seamless river of every type of filth that fallen humanity simply can’t get enough of. Never mind – that’s the wrong lesson from the geniuses of silver screen. What we meant to focus on is their nifty trick of showing out-takes and/or teasers at the tail end of the movie. There’s no reason we can’t apply to this to our time at Church. After the final dulcet strains of the recessional hymn, the celebrant could return and break into the first draft version of his homily. Accompanied by liturgical dance. Congregation participation is encouraged.

And then there’s donuts. Donuts are to human distraction what duct tape is to everything else in life2. Donuts are always useful. Want to slow people down as they’re rushing through the narthex to get back to their cars? Spread out some boxes of donuts– jelly, Bavarian cream, glazed cake. Slow down that line by selling them for 47 cents apiece. Charge a different odd price every week.

Our next obstruction is a good old-fashion garage sale. Every week, trot out a few tables of the flotsam and jetsam left over from the last parish White Elephant sale. People will slow down to look. If you don’t have anything to put out, just put up garage sale signs directing folks on a grand tour around the block. Have the final sign point back to the donut tables. They’ll quickly forget all about a garage sale.

At some point the executioners are going to break past the defenses and get behind the wheel. Now we move to slow‘em-down phase two.

What is the sure-fire way to slow down even the most rabidly aggressive driver, hell-bent on mowing down anything that stands between him and his next target? That’s right: an accident. They’re irresistible. Like driver catnip. The bigger and juicier the accident the more you have to slow down to get the most out of your gawking and rubber-necking. Imagine if your Knights of Columbus could stage a realistic accident and re-certify their CPR skills at the scene! Traffic will creep by.

While accidents really have the greatest return on investment, if your Parish is looking for something a little more seasonal and festive, anything sensational will do. For instance, if there’s room in your Parish’s budget you could stage a virgin birth.

You can be endlessly creative in how you slow down the four-wheeled-euthanasia-wagons. Here’s another example – car tires require friction to make the car move. No friction, no go. While everyone’s happily listening to Father’s homily, the Knights of Columbus can be outside, happily flooding the parking lot so it will turn to a sheet of ice by the time everyone’s done consuming their Chocolate frosted wonderfulness. Don’t live in a cold climate? Global warming getting in the way of that plan? We’ve got you covered– use 100,000 ball bearings– works like a charm.

Finally, as the masses reach the church parking lot exit, we have one final calming device to slow traffic: the toll booth. The first 10% of the cars pay $10 to exit; the remaining 90% exit for free. Next week, you’ll see a much kinder, gentler exodus: please, you go first!

1 Our research has turned up DMV records that show satan drives a humongous SUV.

2 If you understand this sentence, you are smarter than one of us.

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