Car Keys and Wedding Rings


Car Keys and Wedding Rings

Whenever I do anything with the rest of the Parking Today crew, I have interesting parking experiences. From finding great parking in a crazy-busy neighborhood to getting stuck in a gated parking lot, I gather much content for this column.

I don’t want to be unfair to anyone or use my experience as a Parking Today contractor to judge harshly. I try to apply my regular customer expectations to any parking scenario. Just to clarify – what I have to say is not rant in any way. It’s not a beef or a gripe – just an evaluation, a commentary.

PT’s new offices are in a nice office building near Los Angeles International Airport. They are about 10-12 miles from my home office, but it takes up to 45 minutes to get there. I know that’s one thing people make fun of about Californians – not just for our decision to live in such an expensive and congested place, but the way we quantify distance in terms of travel time. We do that for our own sanity. If I thought 12 miles was going to take 25 minutes on Interstate 405 (aka “The 405”) or Century Boulevard, 45 minutes would seem much more painful.

We do this for visitors, too, because we wouldn’t want to trick you into thinking the airport, 8 miles away is also 15 minutes away. It’s a solid 30 for me, and sometimes more depending on the time of day.

So, I made the trek to 5777 W. Century Blvd. Suite 650 for a staff meeting, hoping my dressy shoes made my shorts look more professional. I do most of my work in an office that is adjacent to my kitchen where appearance counts for nothing. Although, I have a hard time concentrating in my pajamas so I don’t sit around in them all day.

It took the 45 minutes Google Maps predicted, much of it spent on the six blocks of Century Blvd. between the freeway and the office. But I made it, despite the best efforts of my children, still home for summer break, and feeling pleased with my shoes and ready to committee-fy, I pulled into the parking garage.

I’ve been there before, so I punched for my ticket and remembered to put that ticket in my purse so I could get validation from JVH (parking validation, that is). Guest parking is served by a valet attendant or two. That day, a lone, but helpful attendant asked how long I’d be visiting and said leave my car along the wall and he’d take my keys in case he had to move it later.

I wandered into the lobby and then remembered an important item I’d left in my console. Returning to the valet stand, I looked in vain for the attendant. I didn’t see him. What I saw were my keys sitting unsupervised on the valet stand just a couple of yards away from my car which was at that moment, serving as a receptacle for something valuable to me: my wedding ring. I’d taken it off to apply lotion while I idled on Century Blvd.

I gasped a little and looked around again, but quickly decided my keys were going back into my pocket and my wedding ring back on my finger, and I wasn’t waiting around for the attendant. I took both upstairs to my meeting at Parking Today.

I don’t know if the valet noticed my keys were missing – he didn’t have a chance to talk to me on my way out. I don’t know if he needed to move my car while I was in the office, either, but he forfeited that option. It wasn’t on my agenda to follow up with him or scold him. No harm, no foul.

But it was an incident that gave me pause and one I wish not to experience again. A quick click of my remote would have led any interested party right to my car. I had a moment of panic thinking it and anything in it could have been stolen with absolute ease because a young valet attendant trusted his surroundings more than I did. 

I was OK with him looking after my car and I handed over my keys assuming that he had protocols in place for securing them. I was wrong. Next time I will be more thorough in the vetting process for that kind of exchange.

It was a good meeting. Nobody noticed my shoes or my shorts. JVH gave me validation (the parking kind). I went home feeling satisfied with my work, glad to be off the roads, and happy my car and my jewelry still belonged to me.

Article contributed by:
Melissa Bean Sterzick
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