I Forgot to Remember


I Forgot to Remember

 I like to blame my kids for my bad memory. I didn’t have any trouble remembering things when I was single and childless, but since I took on the job of raising two human beings, I have started forgetting some pretty big stuff.
I forgot an entire piano recital one Sunday several weeks ago. Earlier this year, I forgot the actual date of Memorial Day and bought plane tickets for the wrong week. I forgot to reimburse our Girl Scout troop leader $250 for my daughter’s new sash and patches (OK, it was only $43, but it feels like $250). 
Outside of my immediate family, I can’t remember anyone’s birthday. Not too long ago, I went out to lunch with a friend and found out later that it was her birthday. Would it be so hard for her to say, “Thanks, this is a fun way to spend the afternoon on my birthday?” But this isn’t a column about manners … for the most part.
I have forgotten the names of half the people I went to high school with and quite a few college roommates. I won’t get started about my password problems. 
I felt a little better about my forgetfulness the other day when my family visited the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA. As I write, we are a week from the first day of school, and all the things I am supposed to remember during the school year are poised overhead like an avalanche, but we will enjoy summer until the last possible moment. 
We drove to the aquarium and parked in the venue’s parking structure. At the entrance, I pushed the button for my ticket, waited for the gate to rise and drove in. It was a slow day, so we found a spot quickly and started to unload. 
Before I got out of my car, I grabbed my ticket. In most places I park, the ticket is meant to be left on the dash where it can be seen through the windshield. But this parking garage is one where you take your ticket and pay for parking on foot. 
I remembered that important detail, because last time we visited the aquarium, I forgot, and so did my husband. It was crowded that day, so we were the people who reached the gate to leave and had to get out of the car, walk to the paystation, and pay while a line of cars formed behind ours.
I remembered that previous embarrassment and took steps to avoid a repeat performance. As we walked toward the staircase to exit the garage, I noticed the signs posted at regular intervals. “Take your ticket with you.” And “Do you have your ticket?” Helpful reminders for those who forget things, and a good indication that I am not the only one with that particular problem. Phew.
We enjoyed our day watching the seals and otters and jellies. I remembered to bring lots of snacks, though my kids would disagree. They are never more starving than when they see a vending machine full of chips and I have an apple and a banana in my purse.
On our way out, we retraced our steps under the giant whale sculpture, out the doors, across the loading zone and up the stairs. I passed two paystations before I recalled I needed to pay-on-foot. I did that, and we headed out. 
As we drove down to the exit level, I saw more signs, but these said, “Pay at pay stations” and “Did you pay for parking?” Again with the helpful reminders. The signs were a nice touch. I appreciated the support and the slight acknowledgement that a lot of people are forgetful. 
We’ve all been paying at the gate for centuries. If there are meters involved, we get out of the car. If a valet shows up at our window, we give him the keys and pay later. If we drive into a garage, we pay from our seat behind the wheel on our way out. 
It’s easy to forget the procedure when someone changes the rules. I’m not saying it’s a bad process, because I know it’s meant to get everybody out of the garage faster. 
It’s a smart idea to post prompts in your parking garage – stuff besides the usual “we are not responsible for stolen items.” Everybody lives in their own heads with their own particular strengths and weaknesses, difficulties and responsibilities, and it’s easy for parking procedures to get lost in the shuffle.
I’d like a few more gentle reminders in my life. If only the grocery store would put a sign over the door that says, “Did you get the milk?” 
Melissa Bean Sterzick is Parking Today’s proofreader, occasional writer and amateur parker. She can be reached at Melissa@parkingtoday.com.
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Melissa Bean Sterzick
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