Looking for the Sunny Side


Looking for the Sunny Side

For people in publishing, the delay between when you write an article and it is delivered to your readers is a real challenge. Daily newspapers have a delay of about 8 hours. A monthly magazine like Parking Today has a delay of up to 30 days. 

That’s not usually a problem – the weeks march on with similar cadence year in and year out. Summer vacation and the holidays trip us up a little, but it’s fine. We take it for granted that any blips in the usual state of affairs will be brief and manageable. 

But anything can happen in 30 days. We’ve just seen it. On February 29, I attended a fundraiser for our local hospital – I was there as a writer, not a million-dollar donor, but I enjoyed the oysters just the same. One of the speakers made a little joke about a virus in China. It was a bad joke, but everyone laughed anyway. 

Today, I am on two plus weeks of homeschooling my children and sharing a home office with my husband. That’s not mentioning the other weird and stressful events going on outside my house – grocery store chaos, employment uncertainty, and night-owl neighbors with a stash of fireworks.

I live in a densely populated area. I can’t comment on air quality, but traffic is down to nothing. It’s pretty amazing. Weekday mornings are strange because I can’t hear a billion cars going by. 

I have been to the store once or twice and drove the empty, eerie streets to an empty eerie parking lot at Trader Joe’s. It is usually a pretty good trick to find free parking near my Trader Joe’s, but I had my pick of at least 10 spots.

This is all having a great effect on my 16-year-old daughter’s progress learning to drive. She’s busy with what seems like twice the amount of her regular school work, but she’s home all day, so we take her out for practice often. 

Looks like we’ll be able to get her on the freeway after all – because it’s wide open. We were going to leave that task up to her driving instructor, the man with insides of steel and a back-up brake on his side of the car. I am happy we’ll be able to put her in an empty parking lot and teach her to drive in reverse. For whatever reason, driving backwards is the scariest thing she’s ever done. Not a good sign for her parking abilities, but she’ll get there.

Something the parking industry could think about while parts of the country are closing all nonessential businesses and locations is how parking is the gateway to just about everywhere you want to go. Parking is the in and the out of all errands, activities and opportunities.

All the nearby beaches have closed. I heard the rumor that it might happen and wondered how in the world you could prevent people from going to the beach. My city’s beach is at the bottom of a 50-foot dune, so there are stairs and ramps down to the sand. 

I figured I’d just go anyway and leave if I got caught. But the stairs and ramps are barricaded. And they closed the parking lots and put up signs forbidding use of the meters.

That’s how they close a beach – they eliminate parking options. It’s pretty powerful and something important for the parking industry to address when this crisis turns the corner.

I’m not somebody who only wants to fixate on silver linings. I think it’s a smart to remember there is good to be found in all difficulty – but I don’t feel the need to find it immediately. 

For me, it’s healthier to acknowledge when something is painful or challenging, heartbreaking or tragic. 

I’m allowed to stop in that spot long enough to register what I need in terms of resources and support, think about how to go forward, and offer myself patience as I adjust. I find comfort in that honesty. 

What I do find inspiring is gratitude. And I won’t bore anybody with my list, but thinking about the things that are still good in the middle of a really tough time helps me keep my head up. 

I’m still anxious, overwhelmed and uncertain. I’m having new and improved stress dreams – the naked in public kind. 

So, I think about the future and imagine the day I’m looking back on this global emergency. I know that day will arrive just as well as I know the sun will shine tomorrow. Things are rough, but that gives me hope.  


Article contributed by:
Melissa Bean Sterzick
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