Magazine

The Amateur Parker Ö

How the Parking Industry Could Save the Day

By Melissa Bean Sterzick

Like most Americans, I have spent a significant part of my life parking. Whether I want to or not, I am compelled by society, industry, city planning and simple necessity to park several times a day.
Every once in awhile I come across a factoid about how much time the average person wastes looking for keys during a lifetime: 11 months. Or how much of the average lifespan is spent dreaming: six years. Iíd like to know how much time I spend parking. Or maybe I donít want to know.
Either way, what I really want is to get more out of the time I spend parking. More services, more products, more items crossed off my to-do list.
Motherís Day has come and gone, but I only recently made use of the gift my husband and children gave me: a massage. After several hours of spa heaven including Jacuzzi, sauna, cucumber slices, free lotion and endless lemonade, I felt like a new woman.
I gathered my things and stepped out of Shangri La and into the parking lot where I had left my car, and there it was, still covered with dirt and filled with abandoned sweaters, cheese stick wrappers, and shriveling preschool crafts.
The only thing that would have made my spa day better, even though it was much appreciated and highly enjoyable, I thought, would have been to come out and find my car washed and detailed. Here I was a new woman, but my car was still the same old car.
It seemed like a pretty easy thing to add to the list of amenities the spa offered. I can see the product description:
Swedish Massage with Auto Detail
Pamper yourself with a 30-minute soothing massage including complimentary eyebrow wax and a car wash, $15
Not only that, it doesnít seem like an impossibility for the spa to offer tire rotation and oil changes in its parking lot:
Glowing Seaweed Wrap and Auto Tune-Up
Your skin will come alive again and your car will stop making that strange clunking noise, $200
If I follow this chain of thought, it seems to me there are many places besides the spa that could help me multitask and many tasks I need help accomplishing. If only I could park my car and have it registered by some kind of mobile DMV or personal auto assistant while I wait in the doctorís office. As I sit in a stiff, ratty chair, reading a 10-year old copy of Glamour, fuming about my physicianís lack of consideration for my time, Iíd be comforted by the thought that at least my car was being productive.
Millions of people drive to work every weekday and park in a garage or lot. They are trapped in an office or put in hours of manual labor and worry about all the things they have to do when they get home. Wouldnít it be great if your car could do more than just sit there and collect bird droppings?
What if you could park in a giant rotating circle of services? Pull up to the tracks, just like you do at the automatic car wash, leave your car in neutral and off it goes to be filled with groceries, dry cleaning, house wares, library books, even clothing. Tell your GPS what you want to cook for dinner, how you like your shirts starched, what you enjoy reading, your shoe size, etc. Your GPS tells the Parking Area Concierge, and at the end of the day when you leave work, all you have to do is get home and take it easy Ė your errands have been done for you.
(Yes, I know that some operators do offer a few services such as car washes and dry cleaning, but not in my part of town.)
Maybe itís a wild, foolish dream to think that my parked car could do more to make my life easier. Or maybe not. I own lots of machines and devices that do things for me while Iím not around to coordinate everything: dishwasher, washing machine, sprinklers, clocks, Tivo, refrigerator, Crock-Pot.
In this age of single parents and soccer moms, high achievers and higher expectations, thereís no doubt people would pay for parking thatís more than just parking. I think my car has a tremendous amount of potential to work while Iím not in it. But that potential depends on the imagination and application of ideas on the part of the parking industry.

Melissa Bean Sterzick, PTís Amateur Parker and Senior Proofreader, lives in Southern California. She can be reached at melissa@parkingtoday.com.

Article Abstract from July, 2008




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