"It's a great car park," the Brit quipped. "Comfortably in my top five Bromley car parks."

By Mike Pomranz
April 29, 2021
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Most of us have goals we feel societally obligated to achieve: get a job or start a family or buy a home. But left to our own devices, we might strive for less conventional things—like the British man who dreamed of parking in every spot at his local grocery store, a goal he says that, after six years, he's finally completed.

Yesterday, Gareth Wild—who lives in Bromley on the southeast side of London—turned to Twitter to regale his relatively modest number of followers (currently under 5,000) with what he called his "Magnum Opus." For the record, that opus is a color-coded spreadsheet documenting the fact that he has parked in all 211 spaces at his local Sainsbury's grocery store's parking lot (or "car park" as the Brits call it).

A car parked at a large parking lot.
Credit: kokouu/Getty Images

If that sounds silly, his friends and family don't disagree. "My wife is very understanding of my stupid projects because she knows that it gives me great enjoyment," Wild told me. "I only told a handful of friends because I knew they'd call me a fucking idiot; good friends insult you the best I find."

Explaining the project, Wild started at the beginning. "[I] almost always shop at the same Sainsbury's in the centre of town," he wrote in his second tweet. "It's a great car park because you can always get a space and it is laid out really well. Comfortably in my top five Bromley car parks." Yes, this is going to be a very British ride.

He continued, "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."

But that moment of pondering begat a journey. Using a satellite image of the parking lot, he began marking out the spaces, axing out things like shopping cart return areas and disabled and motorcycle spots that he could use. "To make it easy for me to identify which space I was parking in I assigned each 'block' a letter and within each block, bay numbers which I would make note of on my phone and then add it all to my super awesome spreadsheet," he posted.

Based on his typically weekly shopping schedule—"with the occasional additional trip to pick up extras"—Wild figured the whole "challenge" could be completed in under four years. Though he does admit, "Annoyingly a global pandemic slowed me down."

Yet, global pandemic or not, Wild got what he was after: a completed spreadsheet. "[It's] been given a bit of extra razzle dazzle to spruce it up a bit for presentation but this is it, this is 6 years of monotony," he wrote, posting an image of the final project.

"It was all quite straightforward and quitting isn't in my DNA," Wild explained to me, "unless it involves hard work and then quitting is very much in my DNA. We thought about moving during that time, which would have messed everything up, but in the end, stayed put, so I could stand in the echelons of greatness."

Speaking of being great, he even included another map designating the best and worst spot, for "anyone keen on taking a pilgrimage to the Bromley Sainsbury's car park." It's practically a public service. (Maybe the British government should have even paid him for it?)

And after all was said and done, despite his self-deprecating British tone, he told others on Twitter that he only has one major regret: not keeping track of the dates that he parked in each spot. "Honestly it keeps me up at night," he told one person. He then added to another, "When I started it I just didn't think to do it and by the time I was in deep I had a huge gap of data so didn't bother trying to claw it back."

Why do I get the feeling he might do this all again?