Park It.

So I’m going to have to start going back into the office soon. For now anyway I’ll be working in a closed room by myself and won’t have any direct contact with other people. In other words it won’t be that different from working at home except I won’t have to worry about a dog barking in the background if I’m in a Zoom meeting. I’ve been vaccinated, boosted, and am planning to get the next booster and also a flu shot—basically I’ve gone from being someone who couldn’t even remember what his primary care physician looked like to saying, “Look, doc, just make me a human pincushion.”

In spite of all that there’s one thing that I remain genuinely concerned about. Most people can be trusted to do the right thing and make accommodations for others and follow the rules but there’s one area where one or two bad actors can screw it up for everybody. And you know I’m talking about parking. At least now the place where I work—for the first time since I started working there, for the first time in decades, has a plethora of parking space. There are so many places to park they’ve actually shut down some of the parking lots. Maybe someday they’ll be green spaces even if for now they’re still gray spaces. I think it would be really cool if they unpaved a parking lot and put up paradise, but that’s another story.

The thing I can’t figure out is how to park. I know where to park—there’s a lot next to where I work that’s still open, and I’ve even found out how much it costs, but I can’t get a clear answer about how to get a sticker or tag or pass or sigil or whatever it is I need. I think there’s an app because of course we can’t do a bloody thing without an app anymore.

It used to be easy. You’d park next to a meter, dump all your spare change in it, and hope you could get back before the time ran out or before lovely Rita the meter maid showed up. Or you might park in a lot and you’d hand some money to a guy in a booth. Some places did away with the guy and the booth entirely. You’d shove your money in a slot marked for your space and you’d hope whoever came to collect it didn’t pocket your cash and give you a ticket anyway. Then came places where you’d go to a machine and put in money or a card and you’d get a slip you stuck on the inside of your windshield so lovely Rita could see that, yes, you’d paid to park.

I preferred the ease and security of having an actual person present although it was still a system that could break down. Once when my wife was in the hospital I’d been to see her. When I went to leave the parking garage there was a guy in a booth and, standing right in the middle of the exit, there was a woman in a nurse’s uniform talking to him.

I asked politely if she could move three feet to the left so I could leave.

“Excuse me,” she said sarcastically. “We’re talking here and I’ll move when we’re done.”

Since she was in no great hurry to finish her conversation I put the car in park, took out my phone, and dialed the number that was helpfully posted on the side of the booth. Before I could get an answer the nurse moved out of the way and gave me my finger and threw a few f-bombs at me on my way out. I called later and the person I spoke to was very apologetic and told me I wasn’t the first person who’d had that experience and they were dealing with it. The next time I went there was no one in the booth. I just pressed a button and the arm across the exit went up so I could leave.

Anyway I’m going to try and figure out what the app is and how to download it and what information I need to put in so I can park but, like I said, it’s not clear at all how it works. But I am pretty sure it’s designed by a guy who used to work in a parking booth.

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  1. M.L. James

    The last time David and I were downtown and parked in paid parking, a guy in a pick up was leaving and gave us his parking card that you stick in the window to say you’ve paid. He seemed nice, kind. He was just ready to leave. No reason to let a good parking card go to waste, right? That seemed logical to us. Yep, it was a scam. Needless to say, we ended up spending a lot more money in fines than if we’d just walked a few extra steps and got our own. Beware beneficence in the parking lot/garage. At least you knew where you sat with the f-bomb throwing, finger giving nurse. Hope all goes well on your first day back. Mona
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    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That seems like quite a scam, giving someone a free parking card. Now you’ve got me wondering how he made any money from it, but I guess he had a deal with whoever handed out the tickets. That also reminds me of my last day, last few hours, really, in Paris, when I had a bunch of subway tickets I wasn’t going to use and handed them to a group of American tourists. Later I realized that while most of them were valid I had a few used ones stuffed in there too. I hope they pulled out the duds before they started using them.


    I use an app called Spot Hero whenever I go into the hospital to work on Mondays, because I no longer qualify to get employee parking. The last three times I used Spot Hero and got to my designated parking space, there was somebody else in my reserved spot. Trying not to get hysterical, I called Spot Hero each time and after I waited on hold for a while, they helped me get another spot closer to the hospital and refunded my money. They said they would also tow the offending parkers. People have suggested that I stop using Spot Hero but I doubt any other app is better. You’re not alone in Parking Anxiety, Chris!

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      At least it sounds like Spot Hero lives up to its name. I’m also happy to report that my Parking Anxiety has been greatly lessened by the surprising ease of parking where I work. There are also so many spots open I never have trouble finding a place to park, although sometimes I like to go up to the roof and look out, even though it gives me High Anxiety.


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