A Parking Hail Mary


A Parking Hail Mary

I frequently ask myself if the digital amenities I employ are truly making my life easier. I know social media has only made my life worse – on so many levels. I told myself it was fun keeping in touch with cousins in other states and friends from college.

But there is a lot of other stuff going on – toxic people, silly games, phishing scams, etc. I’d love to get back all the time I wasted looking up people like the guy I had a crush on in 10th grade, or the crazy roommate I only lived with for one semester.

I love the convenience of Amazon, but the guilt is intense. I should be buying from local stores, or stores with physical locations. I should consider the real costs of shipping all the miscellaneous things I need and didn’t remember to pick up at CVS. 

But it’s just so easy. 

I’ve shared my password rant before, so I’ll just say that uploading money to my kids’ school lunch account wasn’t easy and eventually felt so impossible I gave up and made sandwiches for ten years. I would have liked to send them to school with $3 in their pockets, but that wasn’t an option.

I know it’s not always about making my life easier, but can be about making my life less damaging to the world around me. Carbon footprint and all.

We went to a football game at the University of Southern California late last year. I’m not a big sports spectator. I’ll watch hours of tennis, but that’s the only sport I enjoy to that degree. I’ll watch golf anytime, because I find it relaxing. They only show the best parts on TV, so I don’t have to watch Brooks Koepka chatting with his caddy as they walk the fairway for hours.

But I like the food and the ambiance at football and baseball games, so I go once in a while. My husband, who has a high tolerance for digital mumbo jumbo, gobbledygook and rigamarole, bought the tickets. 

He was unusually stymied by the app required for this purchase, but eventually made it work. After he bought the tickets to the game, he started looking for parking, and when he found he needed to upload another app, he hit his limit.

Putting an app on your phone when you don’t really want to feels like a stranger joining you at a restaurant, the mail carrier coming into your house to give you your catalogs, or having to include someone you really don’t like on the guest list for your birthday party.

I feel great about my Starbucks app. I also enjoy Spotify and Duolingo, TED and GroupMe. My middle age is showing. 

I keep a special folder on my screen for apps I don’t like, but have to use. That way they don’t take up too much space. Or I delete them and download again when I have to.

Anyway, my husband decided to bail on the parking app and just look for parking near the venue. Also, he was sure we’d find parking on site cheaper than the $30 spot he might have reserved online

This leads us to the next part of the story.

We arrived at the neighborhood around the Coliseum and began our search for a garage or lot. We had an amusing and not reassuring conversation about whether or not the guys waving signs for parking were really selling parking, because we didn’t want to end up mistakenly buying something else. 

It became more and more apparent that it was not going to be easy to find a reasonably-priced spot that seemed safe. So, we went with the guy enthusiastically waving us into his driveway. 

He was careful to guide us into our spot and took time to protect the other cars already parked there. He said he’d be waiting after the game, took our money and waved us on.

This was the first time we have ever paid to park in someone’s driveway for any reason. It was $30. 

Downloading the app would have taken less time, but was twice as aggravating as looking for a spot at the last minute. We made it to the game just in time for kick off.

The horse galloping across the field was fun, and we ran into him later, on our way out. He seemed well taken care of and at ease. He took an enormous dump on the sidewalk. Right there in front of us. Hilarious. Our college mascot would just tear you to shreds and then eat your heart, so it was never represented at games in anything but costume. 

All in all, a fun experience. We had great seats in the stadium. I had some great snacks. Our team prevailed, though I hear everybody is beating USC these days.

Article contributed by:
Melissa Bean Sterzick
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