Yesterday, I was going out with a friend. We were looking for parking in a small city (population ~30,000) in the northeastern United States at around 6:00 PM, and things were fairly crowded. After 20 minutes, we saw that a woman was walking towards her car, parked in a roadside spot. She saw us and seemed to indicate that she would be leaving; she got in the car alone and turned on the ignition, then put on her lights. She then sat in the car for three minutes without moving; I didn't have a good enough view to see what she was doing.
We waited until a nearby light changed and more traffic headed our way (on road with two lanes on either side). We were about to just give up and drive away when the woman suddenly pulled out of the spot. We then successfully parallel-parked.
In hindsight, we would have liked to have asked the woman if she would be leaving soon, rather than waiting and potentially blocking traffic (at which point we would of course have left). However, we couldn't think of a good way to do this.
- We could honk, but that wouldn't be clear and would probably be rude. I prefer not to honk out of annoyance, only in dangerous situations.
- One person could get out of the car and walk onto the sidewalk, but there was little room to safely open a door. Plus, this isn't possible when there's only one person in the car.
- We could pull alongside her and ask, but we would then have to back up to get the spot, and it's possible that someone would move in behind us. Additionally, her windows were down.
Is there a polite (and of course safe) way for us to ask another driver in this situation if they will be leaving the spot? I don't want to ask her (or tell her) to move; I just want to ask if she will be leaving the spot soon.
Here's a diagram of the situation, as per WeaselADAPT's request:
The yellow arrows indicate the direction of traffic.