How do you have a professional industry if you don’t have a modicum of self-respect? Look – I’m the first guy to set myself up for a few laughs, most richly deserved. Self-deprecation is a tool used by most in the public eye to increase their public image. Fair Enough.
But I believe that the trait can be taken too far, and the ongoing series “Parking Wars” does that. I understand that the folks at the Philly Parking Authority and the series’ producers think that the end result of the show is positive (it’s now spread to Detroit). The enforcement staff has been quoted as saying that the attitude of Philly parkers toward them has been much more positive since the series has begun. Obviously the public likes it. It’s been renewed for another season and Hollywood doesn’t make series that don’t sell. Heck –even the IPI promoted it at its convention last year.
It’s a reality show. It’s inexpensive to make and the fans eat it up. It’s right up there with Survivor, The Bachelorette, Housewives of New York City, Hh Hell’s Kitchen. I don’t know where it falls rating wise with Survivor and Hell’s Kitchen (it’s not syndicated as widely as these two) but they are of the same genre. Basically reality shows depict people at their worst. They are shown making fools of themselves and the public eats it up. In our case, the “reality actors” yell and scream while the poor browbeaten enforcement staff takes the guff and come back for more. The story line is perfect. Yep – parking causes problems and there are plenty of people to react negatively to it.
We begin to feel sorry for enforcement; after all they are only doing their jobs. Parking brings out the worst in bad people. Yep – and we can see it every week just before “Losing it with Jillian.” Self-deprecation is good in small doses. I can err once in a while in my column and then “eat crow.” But if I did it every day, it would be a bore.
We are a professional industry. We generate billions in revenue each year. We built large building that house our product. We create millions of jobs. We deal with the public every day, day after day. Our errors cause huge political upheavals. We touch almost every aspect of daily life. We have a lot of which to be proud. Can’t we somehow tell that story? Parking Wars certainly doesn’t.
I remember the guy on the first tee a few years back responding to my being in the Parking Business. “Oh, yeah, parking. Isn’t that the scuzzy business sort of like garbage collection?” He had us nailed. Just like Parking Wars. Our people work in a not so good part of town. They deal with life’s more unsavory characters. They enforce laws that we would really rather not be enforced.
I prefer to think my industry is made up of innovators who are trying new ideas almost daily. SF Park, Pay by Cell, Credit cards on meters, Pay and Display, Pay on Foot, Parking guidance, automated parking systems, in street data collection, parking apps, LED lighting – they all work toward making parking easier for our customers.
You want “Green.” Parking can give you green in spades. Whether its LEED approved structures or solar panels on the roof, it’s there. What about the recent campaign to get charging stations in garages or systems to speed up parking and thus reduce pollution? The concept of market based on street pricing of parking could actually do more to reduce congestion in downtown areas than all the rules and laws considered by many city councils.
We are a good industry. We are coming of age. We are a proud group of pros who make lives easier for drivers every day.
I think we deserve better than “Parking Wars.”