Parking Here and There


Parking Here and There

Now that the holidays are over, the world is calmer, so I can set aside my parking mantra (Patience!) and park like I normally do. But adventures in parking can happen in any season and on any day of the week.

I went to lunch with a friend the other day. I asked her for a ride so my husband could take my car to the dentist and my home-from-college-for-winter-break daughter could drive his car to her part-time job. My family occasionally has supply and demand imbalances when it comes to vehicles – we have two cars and 3.5 drivers (the 15-year-old has her learner’s permit).

Most of the time, I’m only a passenger when my husband drives. I’ve gotten used to his parking patterns (pass several decent spots and then park a long way away from our destination) and I think I understand his motives. I take my role as passenger seriously and only offer suggestions when asked.

Occasionally, I ride with my parents – my dad does the driving/parking and my mother is his very enthusiastic co-pilot. 

They are 78 and 75 and feel best when they drive as a team. Their various strengths and limitations on the road dovetail nicely. 

That’s not to say it’s comfortable to be a passenger in their transportation committee, but it is only slightly more uncomfortable than being the driver when they both play co-pilot.

My mom whips her head around at every intersection ready to warn me if there is oncoming traffic I didn’t notice. I reassure her that I’ve got it under control, but she can’t help it. My dad questions my route, speed, and completion of stop. They both help me park. “There’s one!” “Follow that guy!” “Do you want me to get out and stand in that spot to save it for us?” My parents are resourceful and helpful people no matter the situation. I love them for it.

So, finding myself a passenger in a friend’s car is always a strange feeling. We headed toward the restaurant which is located in a busy shopping and dining area with equally hectic parking options. 

The streets are nowhere near parallel or even perpendicular, people and their dogs crowd the sidewalks, and jaywalking is a normal practice. 

In fact, the main parking lot for this entertainment district is called “the Triangle.”

The first spot we noticed looked good to me, but my friend saw a sign attached to the meter post that said the spot is open to employee parking for employees of businesses within the vicinity. 

She moved on to another open spot and it had the same sign. I kept my mouth shut, even though I happen to know those spots are available to employees, but are not designated exclusively for employee parking. 

The employee can park there, but so can anyone else. We continued along and there was no rush, so the search for parking was just a good opportunity to chat. 

We came upon an open spot and parked. My friend expressed enthusiastic appreciation for the credit-card capable meter. 

I went to pay and found myself looking into a blank screen. The meter was broken. I tapped all the buttons just to be sure. My friend made a move to get back in the car. 

However, I know it’s OK to park at a broken meter. I’m not a mercenary about it, but it’s a fact that if you can’t pay, you can’t be penalized for not paying (if I’m wrong, somebody please say so). My friend was doubtful, but I was convincing. 

Someone will be along soon to repair the meter, but until then, the parking spot is still functioning. It occurred to me that this prime spot was only available because other people weren’t aware of the broken meter protocol.

We ate our lunch and had a good catching up and all was well.

This parking experience made me think about the very different ways people approach parking. Many of us are parking with only half the information about rules and regulations. Some people are aggressive, others are assertive, and still others are passive. 

Parking providers are dealing with personality types on top of everything else.

Somehow, there’s almost always a happy ending. Parking is occasionally complicated and confusing, but it works. I think that’s a sign of real success for everyone involved.


Article contributed by:
Melissa Bean Sterzick
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