Parking Consultant Visits His Shrink
By Joe Sciulli
Parking management consultant Joe Sciulli provided a transcript of his latest trip to his psychiatrist. We changed the name of the doctor to protect the guilty. Editor
Joe Sciulli: Hi, Doctor Van Horn. Thanks for seeing me on such short notice.
Dr. Van Horn: No problem at all. How can I help you, Joe?
JS: You see, it all started when this wise parking sage from the University of Oklahoma – Theta Dempsey – said I needed counseling for a “parking management disorder” she thought I had. Well, now they’ve gone and named a building after her on the OU campus, so I figured she must be pretty smart about these things, too. So here I am. Should I lie down?
Dr. VH: I’d rather you sit. What’s on your mind?
JS: Well, first of all, I keep having this dream. At least I think it’s a dream. I’m teaching a group of parking enforcement officer trainees, when I notice this one young guy who’s wearing a real shoddy uniform – his shirt’s out, shoes untied, not polished – and I think he’s going to wreck the image of the program if he ever goes on the street like that. So I start to chew him out in front of the class to set an example. I use lots of foul language and come down on him pretty hard, like an outraged customer would.
Dr. VH: I sense some hostility, Joe. Why so tough on the kid?
JS: I figured he’d be sure to have a confrontation if he ever gave a ticket to somebody looking like that, trying to enforce the law when he didn’t even care about his own appearance. But it must have sunk in, because whenever I saw him later, he was always looking sharp. Now, I think it really happened, but it’s so long ago I can’t be sure. I feel bad for dishing out the abuse, but my head tells me I did the right thing. I’m conflicted.
Dr. VH: Did you have your clothes on in the dream, Joe?
JS: Yeah, sure.
Dr. VH: Good, because you look pretty out of shape to me. But that’s another story. Not to worry. The sharper these officers look, the more respect they’ll get, all things being equal. Look sharp, feel sharp, be sharp, I always say. What’s next?
JS: Well, a lot of times I get angry and depressed at the same time when I read about cities that raise their ticket fines or meter rates just to make money. You see this a lot now, Doc. They even admit it on their websites! They actually say they’re raising ticket fines and meter fees to close budget gaps.
Dr. VH: And how does that make you feel, Joe?
JS: Confused, Doc. From when I started in parking management, I was always told it’s about doing the right thing for the people: better public safety, more access to short-term parking, improved traffic and all those good economic development things that happen when parking is managed for the right reasons.
Dr. VH: Joe, some psychologists might say you’re stuck in the anal stage of development. No pun intended about being stuck there, by the way. A little psych humor, get it? But I agree with you, Joe. You’re expecting things to be very ordered and altruistic. But life’s not like that – especially when it comes to what I call “The PP&M Triangle”: Parking, Politics and Money.
JS: So what’s a consultant to do? Hey, Doc, didn’t Freud ask that question?
Dr. VH: I think it was, “What do women want?” but that’s neither here nor there. Just prepare yourself that today’s prodigious pressures to produce parking proceeds for public purposes may be too powerful for the plethora of parking professionals. The prospect is palpable.
JS: That’s profound.
Dr. VH: Now, Joe, you and I know that parking management isn’t only about the money. And it’s the rare parking exec indeed who can speak truth to power, and protect the program’s integrity to avoid the pitfalls of MPA.
JS: The Motion Picture Association?
Dr. VH: Managing for Profits Alone.
JS: I’m perplexed.
Dr. VH: Hmmm. I think stronger treatment is needed. Joe, how do you feel about electroshock therapy?
JS: Pretty negative, Doc.
Dr. VH: Are you positive?
JS: I’m positive; I’m negative!
Dr. VH: Those electroshock treatments can be charged, Joe: Visa, MasterCard, all the big ones. Think about it. Is there anything else? It’s closing in on my tee-time.
JS: Well, there is something else. I keep having this dream, and my boss says she has it, too. We’re trying to figure how to work one of these multi-space meters on some crowded street. Between the confusing regulation signs and poor directions on the machine, we’re getting frustrated and angrier by the minute. So we start to think that the city must not have put any time and effort into getting feedback from ordinary folks about the wording or layout of the instructions, and we start screaming a bunch of obscenities and just walk away without feeding the darn thing. And we dare them to give us a ticket. Hah!
Dr. VH: Does your boss have her clothes on in this dream, Joe?
JS: Of course.
Dr. VH: That’s too bad. But I digress. Some cities do it the right way, and some cities don’t. It’s an imperfect world out there, my friend.
JS: But that leads me to my last issue, Doc. You see, I think my city’s parking program is perfect – the best in the world – and I tell that to a lot of people, to anybody that’ll listen, really. They’ve got analysts that hit the street and analyze, supervisors that get out there and really supervise, and directors that understand the real parking management mission. For them, it’s all about the citizens, the customers, turnover, the quality of life … all that.
Dr. VH: Joe, does the term “delusions of grandeur” mean anything to you?
JS: You mean like the dream I keep having where I’m addressing my adoring subjects? But don’t worry, Doc; I always have my clothes on in that one: the crown, the robes, the scepter – the whole nine yards.
Dr. VH: I think our time’s up, Joe. Just pay the receptionist on your way out. Cash!
JS: Just one last thing, Doc. Do you validate parking?
When on day-release from his local psych ward, Joe Sciulli is Vice President and Senior Operations Consultant of Chance Management Advisors. He can be reached at Joe.Sciulli@chancemanagement.com.
Article Abstract from November, 2010