Ask Your Magic 8-Ball


Ask Your Magic 8-Ball

Anybody else feel a little dizzy? I do. Every day brings another extraordinary event – another crisis, discovery, call to arms, or emergency. I’m not even sure what to tell my kids anymore. 

They’ve heard my stores about 9/11 and the shuttle disaster, the end of the Cold War and my family’s first microwave. We have experienced the enormous events that have happened this year together. I’ve seen a lot of major history in my life, but I think they’ve just about caught up. 

I am as tired of talking about the pandemic as anybody. There have been days during the last few months when I wanted to clobber anybody who used the phrase “social distancing.” I must have heard the phrase used a billion times. However, it’s all still a pretty big topic of interest, and writing about anything else is a tough task.

Lately, we’re still giving each other space in public places, but everybody is getting out more. That means things like street cleaning and meter charges are back to normal.  

That means I see people eating in restaurants and gathering in larger numbers. That means, when I head out to the store or any other errand, I am no longer one of just a handful of people on the road. I’m finding the transition back to pre-Covid 19 life challenging in a different way than the initial response to the crisis.

Going out is feeling difficult. Staying in was a trial of a different nature. There was urgency, a sense of purpose in safeguarding my family, as well as those at higher risk, the medical industry, and the food supply chain. Soon thereafter, a sense of boredom and restlessness permeated my days. I know I am one of the lucky ones with the luxury of feeing bored.

Going out still seems foolhardy. But I’m doing it – my kids, who’ve stayed home more than I have, are finished with remote school now and need to move around the world normally again or risk losing all their social skills.

I leave my mask in my car half the time and have to go back for it. It hasn’t become a habit. I’ve also had to remind myself, multiple times, that I can’t take a sip of my drink while wearing a mask. That’s a good move when your teenagers are watching. I don’t recommend it if you don’t enjoy humiliation. 

I know people around the country are going places without masks, but again, here I am in LA where we are still covering up. 

I hope that by the time we print this issue we are all riding high on a wave of increased normalcy with all the activity, enjoyment and parking we have missed out on for so many weeks. That would make everything I say here moot and I would be thrilled to find my current perspective rendered obsolete.

I’ve been thinking that prices for parking will surely rise in the aftermath of the pandemic. Of course, early days brought giveaways, lower prices, and those unenforced meters. But, going forward, crowd control and everybody’s wish to shop, see a concert, or visit a museum will definitely create opportunities to adjust parking rates. 

Parking can be measured, and so it can be used to organize the movement and congregation of people. Parking can be quantified and priced according to need, so it will be a tool for managing other numbers.

Parking won’t just be an add-on to the cost of an outing – it will be an entrance fee and a means to verify permission to attend. That justifies a higher price. There will, most likely, be fewer people at any event, so parking will have to cost more. 

On the flip side, it will be worth more, too. If going out continues to be limited by phases and fears over density, people will want to know they are among an intentionally and actively controlled number.

I foresee parking that offers guaranteed sanitation of payment devices and/or completely no-touch entry and exit, guaranteed room for 6 feet of distance from the next guy and his car, and guaranteed germ-free and touchless access to the venue. Signage will indicate those guarantees. And so will the price. 

Well, it’s hard work telling the future. I’d like to predict smooth sailing from here on out. It could happen, but I feel safer predicting that hard times require adaptability. I know the parking industry is up to that task.

Article contributed by:
Melissa Bean Sterzick
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