Happy Anniversary, Parking Today
April marks Parking Today’s 20th anniversary – we will be celebrating the event all year long. Edito
Melissa Bean Sterzick
Parking Today’s 20th anniversary issue coincides approximately with my 10th anniversary as a member of its staff. It took me a few days to gather that thought, because it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long.
Of course, my early days working on the magazine are a bit of a blur. I left my full-time job when my first-born was 2 and I began freelancing. After I started proofreading and writing for PT, I had another daughter. I did my best to manage the desperation that is a work deadline and two children under 4, but it wasn’t always pretty.
Now they are older and go to school, so I don’t have to throw candy at them or pray they will nap so I can get my work done. I have learned a lot from working for Parking Today. Here are a few lessons I thought worth sharing:
1. Technology is not a fairy godmother or the bogeyman. I’m part of the generation that went from Atari to the iPhone. I wrote high school papers on a typewriter, but my kids have never even seen one. I suffered through LexisNexis on DOS in college, and now I have a love affair with Google. Things have changed, to put it mildly. I’m not afraid of new technology; it’s just that the changes are coming faster and faster. I hesitate to adopt new tools because I like the old ones. As I examine the technology arising in the parking industry, I see a pattern: Every new technology has good points and bad points, triumphs and glitches, and a unique rate of integration. I keep hearing about the self-driving car putting an end to parking – a fantasy to some and a nightmare to others. The truth is, it’s somewhere in the middle.
2. People are rotten. There’s the stuff I encounter in my own life, including gossip, rudeness, people who talk on their phones while they drive, bad customer service and repugnant presidential candidates. And there are all the crummy things I read about happening in parking lots: stabbings, shootings, parking ticket scams, handicapped parking fraud, bribery, theft, whining and complaining, and overpriced sports event parking – and that’s just in the U.S., where we don’t dump toxic waste in our parking lots or neglect building codes. It’s discouraging to read the news and consider the bulk of bad behavior going on in the world. It makes “the flood” seem more like a plausible solution.
3. People are decent. The news is unbalanced. In the parking industry alone, there are countless examples of people doing good things: parking spots dedicated to vets, companies creating sustainable parking materials, organizations putting up parking meters to collect money for the homeless, total strangers rallying around a woman giving birth in a parking lot. People are doing all sorts of nice things in parking – and everywhere else – with no reward or accompanying headline. Never fear, people are decent.
4. How to be part of a team. During my pre-PT career, I was a newspaper reporter and magazine editor. As a reporter, I was mostly on my own, searching for news, interviewing sources and writing. At deadline, I sent my copy to my editor, and then I went home. My editor made revisions, the copy editors wrote the headline, and the next day my byline showed up on whatever page the managing editor thought it deserved. It was a team effort, but not exactly a collaboration.
As a magazine editor, my role was more dictatorial, and I liked that. For me, being Type A was the way to get my job done right. It still is, because as PT’s proofreader, it’s my responsibility to find mistakes. I look hard, but I do it with a critical eye, and without meanness. I get the proofs after everything has been written, edited, laid out, and reviewed at least once by advertising and editorial. The deadline, not flexibility and collaboration, was my priority in my previous work. Now I know that work flow is one thing, and working with people is another, and both are important to success.
5. A good leader models respect. I don’t think PT Editor John Van Horn is perfect, but I won’t bore you with the details of his imperfections as I’ve observed them. He’s a good boss. He doesn’t expect anyone to work harder or care more than he does. He offers compliments and praise at appropriate intervals. He likes to hear new ideas and tolerates criticism well.
He might not be perfect, but he is sane and fair – two very good attributes in a leader. John is always looking ahead, forming strategies for what he wants to achieve in the future. He doesn’t spend his time looking behind him, pointing fingers or obsessing about mistakes. His approach to his work is infectious – in a very good way.
I am happy to be a part of Parking Today, and wish it many years of success to come.
Melissa Bean Sterzick is Parking Today’s proofreader, occasional writer and amateur parker. She can be reached at Melissa@parkingtoday.com.