Parking Lot Heaven


Parking Lot Heaven

I’m doing my best to put Covid in the rearview mirror, despite it still popping up in my life in assorted ways.

I took a trip to urgent care recently for treatment of a spider bite that got really ugly, really fast. You wouldn’t want to see a picture of it, but over the course of three days it went from a small red bump to a giant, gruesome, red welt twenty times bigger than the spider that caused it. 

I signed in and cheered up at the sight of the mostly empty waiting room knowing I wouldn’t spend half the day to in limbo. I turned around and went to sit in the lobby to wait my turn when the receptionist politely informed me that I needed to wait in my car. She said they would text me when it was my turn to see the doctor.

I’ve done this a lot during the last two years: car as waiting room, car as dining room, car as entertainment center. My patio took on a new life too, complete with picnic table, ping pong table, projector and giant movie screen.

We’ve heard so many arguments for and against masks, but the physical distance precaution seemed much less controversial and easier to manage. I think that says a lot about our culture – we mind covering our mouths, but we don’t mind more elbow room.

What does this mean for parking? 

I’m reading plenty about online reservations, touchless and cashless parking payments, and virtual parking attendants. I’ve envisioned some new parking lot equipment that supports the “car as waiting room” option.

The newest parking lot equipment I’m suggesting is a remote-controlled blinker on a stand at the top of a parking spot. It’s a lighted, stall-specific sign that tells you when it’s your turn to go in, pick up, or do whatever it is you’re waiting to do. Anybody making you wait for goods or services can send you out to your vehicle (if you wish) and flash the light when it’s time to come in. They don’t need to text you or call you or pop their head out the door. Park, check in, tell them what stall you’re in and everyone is good to go.

I have realized I like waiting in my car. I prefer it to sitting in a stiff chair, staring at my phone, and listening to other people cough and sniff. All the while I’m wondering what kind of crud I am in danger of contracting from them. Doctor’s waiting rooms and the ER are both places where you wait to get treatment for injury or illness and inadvertently pick up a germ you don’t already have.

I’m not germophobic by any means, but I don’t seek out germs.

Covid could be over, but my sense that my inner introvert finally flew her flag has not diminished. I’m a friendly person and I enjoy a good people watching session. However, I’m relieved to find that I’m expected to interact less with strangers.

There were times during the pandemic lockdown that I missed going to the movies. I felt better when I remembered the last movie I saw in theaters before we went into isolation. It was December 2019 and my family went to see The Rise of Skywalker during holiday break. We were alarmed when two groups of people began exchanging swears and threats during the most climactic moment.

Just before the two main characters, who had been bitter enemies for 2.75 movies, reconciled and kissed, somebody in the back row started whispering and somebody nearby, but farther forward, said “Shut the F up.” Then they escalated to insults and suggestions of assault. My family sat there stunned, wondering if we should run for our lives, but hoping we were not about to witness, or be the victims of, violence.

Granted, we were all horrified and blame Disney for the enormously inappropriate and unnecessary kiss between Rey and Kilo Ren, but our main concern at the moment was getting as far away from those thugs as possible.

It’s a rough world out there with some people yelling at each other during movies, and other people kissing psychopaths who were just trying to kill them the day before. Of course, I feel safer in my car.

When my daughters were small, they went to the doctor once a year for a well check. I wasn’t going to take my healthy children into a waiting roomful of sick kids, so we waited in the office building lobby instead of the doctor’s office lobby. The doctor’s staff was kind enough to holler for us when it was time to come in.

If my lighted post idea doesn’t work out, how about the parking lot vibrating disc? It’s like the ones you get at Chili’s – those black squares with flashing red lights and a heavy pulse. They go off and scare the heck out of you buzzing and bouncing on the table. They’d need a wider range, but you could take one out to your car and wait for the jump scare.

Article contributed by:
Melissa Bean Sterzick
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