Making it Work

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Making it Work

I read an article the other day about how a number of empty cruise ships are floating around the English Channel. A man by the name of Paul Derham lives and operates two ferries in Mudeford, a small oceanside parish near the area. People kept asking him about the ships moored along the coast and he came up with the idea to offer tours. His 2.5 hour “ghost ship” tours get passengers within 50 meters of some of the vessels. That’s close enough for the ships’ captains to come out and wave hello.

He says there’s nothing like being near enough to feel the scale of the ships. One of them is 1,187 feet long and built to carry more than 6,500 people. Derham is rightly proud of his venture and happy to share stories of his years working in the cruise industry.

Empty wandering cruise ships are just another one of the odd developments brought on by the pandemic. It’s a serious one, and there are many others.

This airport edition of Parking Today has to address the changes being forced on the airport parking industry. There are fewer travelers, fewer flights, and fewer parking spaces occupied. I can only imagine the disruption of business and the emptiness of parking lots.

I am confident this is a temporary change and can’t presume to tell the professionals who specialize in airport parking how to handle it in the meantime.

What I will say is that open space is highly desirable these days. A mask, the outdoors and plenty of room between you and the next guy are our best options for minimizing risk – if we are concerned about risk. Even for those who are not concerned, many limitations are still in effect. Large venues, in particular, are not in use or not in full use. 

It seems wise to consider that cars are not the only things that can go in a parking lot, for the time being. If the parking lot is empty, fill it with something. I will leave that brainstorming up to the experts.

I went to Ikea the other day to buy a desk for my daughter. Both of my daughters are currently doing school at home – not to be confused with homeschooling, which is something people do on purpose. School at home is another side effect of the pandemic that we are trying to accommodate. Thus, the desk and the trip to Ikea where, after I waited in a carnival-style switchback line, I came upon, in 6-foot increments, several hundred other people all looking for desks, too. 

I’m pleased I left the store with a small table that will replace the plastic folding table my daughter has been using to do her school work. We are taking the situation in stride, without extreme amounts of angst, but a more permanent solution seemed important for morale.

Every day, I encounter another shift in life as I knew it. Part of me feels inspired by the creativity I see; part of me is sad about the huge changes happening without my express permission.

Regardless of how I feel about it, change must occur. 

A friend recently drew to my attention the many, many school-age children trying to study online who don’t have access to Wifi. They’re camping out in fast-food restaurant parking lots during school hours trying to get a signal. Surely, we can do better than that.  

I’ve been trying to think about how we get these kids into a comfortable space where they can connect to Wifi and do their work. Empty libraries, office buildings, schools. Another friend says her school district sent each child home with a Chrome book, and anyone who needed it also got a Wifi hotspot. That’s a great idea. How about a waiver to pay for Wifi for families who apply to their school district, or a discounted Wifi connection from whatever cable company serves the area?

These are unprecedented times, and there are many unmet needs and many expectations and practices turned upside down. It would be wonderful if we could put together solutions that shuffle existing, and now underused, resources in ways that will create profit and provide needed resources to others.

I think about the guy giving tours around empty cruise ships, and the thousands of families out there looking for desks, and I recognize a trend. We have to make do – and sometimes, when we make do, we also make discoveries.

Another thing I have full confidence in is ingenuity. Our government might be in chaos, our economy in danger, but we will find a way. We will punch solutions into walls if we have to. And then when it is all said and done, we will pat ourselves on the backs and ask ourselves which parts of our new reality are a little better than “normal” we lived before. 

Article contributed by:
Melissa Bean Sterzick
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