The Amateur Parker Ö
Iíve Done Lots of Parking Today
By Melissa Bean Sterzick
I recently met with the staff of Parking Today, something I get to do barely once a year and which is always enjoyable. I communicate with them almost entirely by e-mail, but they are a good bunch of people and a face-to-face meeting is much better than the cryptic exchanges we make over the Internet.
During the course of the evening, PTís editor and publisher, John Van Horn, asked me where I get ideas for my Amateur Parker columns. Above the din of five different conversations, forks and plates scraping, and wine slurping, I answered vaguely about looking for ideas on Google or just waiting for something to happen to me and then writing about it.
Not my most sparkling conversation of the night, but I tried to make up for it later. Because I do not drink, I was at a decided disadvantage for the first half of the gathering and then the person making the most sense during the second half.
In fact, some times I think I have absolutely nothing left to say about my adventures in parking. But something always comes to me, in part because I am always parking somewhere, and if I am not parking, I am preparing to park somewhere. Parking happens to be on my mind quite frequently.
To be honest, I get nervous joining large groups of people at parties where adult conversation is in order and I am the least familiar face in the crowd. Iím not exactly shy, but have long held tight to the reins of an erratic and hereditary tendency to blurt out weird and sarcastic comments in social situations where my sense of humor is completely misunderstood.
Itís also been many years since I worked in an office full time and did not change a diaper, vacuum the rug, and make PB&Js for my children during my lunch break. Being a mother is great, but it doesnít make anybody a witty conversationalist.
I was slightly anxious about attending this PT get-together, but most of my worries were caused by not having an answer to the simple question of ďwhere would I park?Ē
The Parking Today office is near Los Angeles International Airport, and I live in the vicinity. I knew if I gave myself enough time to drive 12 miles at 2 miles per hour, I could make it there on time. After meeting at the office, we would all proceed to a nearby restaurant, where I guessed I could face any number of parking scenarios: valet, meter, garage, nothing.
I can negotiate LA traffic, however unwillingly, but I had no idea what to expect in the parking department at either location.
My concerns were justified. I found the office and located the entrance to the parking area, which was barred by a drop gate that opened when I punched the button and took a ticket, your standard procedure. I had no idea what I would end up paying to park in this lot, but had no other option and saw nothing posted nearby about rates.
It was only later that I found out this entry was being used to test equipment for a local provider of parking hardware, with offices in the same building, and there would be no charge for parking. So far so good.
But when we tried to exit the parking lot, the test equipment experienced a hiccup, and I was supplied with no end of giggles by the thought of the entire PT staff trapped in a parking lot by an uncooperative gate. ...
Onward to the restaurant, where I found free on-street parking, with no provisions or threats of citation coinciding with that particular date and time. I did have to wade through several knee-deep potholes to get my fettuccine Alfredo, but it was worth it.
Obviously, I made it home safely and considered the night a success, not having lost my car, been given a ticket or told any really terrible jokes.
It doesnít take much to have an experience in parking. Iím having them all the time. And since Iím a natural-born planner, I consider where Iím going to park well before I even get in my car, especially when Iím going someplace Iíve never been.
That means Iím parking every day and thinking about it several times a day, and there are dozens of opportunities every month for one of my parking experiences to be memorable in a positive or negative way. So I write. Itís a tough job, but somebodyís got to do it.
Melissa Bean Sterzick is PTís amateur parker and proofreader. She can be reached at Melissa@parkingtoday.com.
Article Abstract from April, 2010