My Journey to the Center of the Earth


My Journey to the Center of the Earth

People in the parking industry probably hear enough complaining from the public, so I don’t want to use this column to gripe about my own parking mishaps – at least not on a regular basis. Either way, I try not to let parking troubles affect my state of mind. I get annoyed, but I let it go.

The other day, however, I had two bad parking moments back-to-back, and because so many Parking Today readers will be taking in the sights, sounds and seminars at the Parking Industry Exhibition next month, I’m offering up two subjects for discussion: scary parking structures and mismatched parking lots.

I got a new doctor this year and made an appointment for a check-up. I arrived with plenty of time to spare, but once I was in the parking garage, I realized this was not going to be a quick job.

The office building itself is on a small piece of land, and the garage fits tightly underneath. I looped around, going deeper and deeper without finding an open spot. I started to feel concerned about how I would turn around if I didn’t find a space, and whether I was going to be on time for my appointment. Just before I reached China, I parked.

I thought my troubles were over, but they were not. I got out of my car and scanned the concrete cavern for a stairway or elevator. There were doorways all around, but some were marked fire exit and others were locked. There was no signage or painted arrows pointing me to the top, and my concern escalated into a solid spot on the irrational terror spectrum.

I’ll admit I don’t like enclosed spaces. When they’re made of concrete and have no doors or windows, that predilection is exacerbated. Besides my fear of being trapped and/or molested, I start to think I might suffocate and/or hyperventilate. I locked my car and nervously started to venture away from it. I circled the center column and found an open door that led to the elevator.

Once I got to the lobby level, I kissed the ground and prayed I would be able to find my car on the return trip. Exiting the elevator, I was nowhere near the doctor’s office and ended up in a twist of corridors more confusing than the parking garage.

I am blabbering on about my imaginary trauma, so it’s obvious I survived to tell the tale. I understand that the dimensions of the property had a lot to do with the planning of the building and its parking structure, but I did not enjoy either.

What would make a difference: I should have parked on the street, and will do so in the future. Otherwise, the garage needs better signage and lots of it.

After my appointment, which was uneventful, I headed out to meet a friend for lunch. We agreed to try a new restaurant near our recently refurbished supermall. There I found not a single available parking spot and drove in loopy fits and starts while my friend waited for me at the restaurant. I felt like a jerk.

This particular area of the mall is two blocks away from the two main parking structures that serve the shopping area. I knew I could find parking in either, but that the drive, the circling and the walk required would add another 15 or 20 minutes to my tardiness, so I continued to troll. The search was complicated by the way three distinct parking areas converge on a main inlet/outlet for this general parking area.

Remodeling work on the mall included the tearing down of an outdated medical building and the addition of a Nordstrom and several busy restaurants. The mall’s original parking lot, a nearby Barnes & Noble lot, and the remade lot from the old medical building all bump into each other, but the stalls face different directions and are oriented differently for two-way and one-way entry.

I tried waiting patiently, I tried following shoppers obviously leaving the mall, and I tried just driving around willy-nilly. I finally found a spot, but not before I started to think I might have to give up.

What would make a difference: I should have gone straight to the garage, and will do so in the future. Otherwise, in a parking area that will always be overcrowded, valet might be a good solution.

Sometimes I cause my own parking problems. Sometimes they are imposed on me by design, by circumstance, by nature, and by the forces of inconvenience that plague anyone who gets out of bed in the morning.

My best bet is to just keep moving forward.



Article contributed by:
Melissa Bean Sterzick
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