Last week, I had a meeting downtown which required me to drive and park in one the cities fine parking establishments. When I say ‘fine’ I mean that it was a lot and it had parking spaces and they charged me eight dollars to park there. Beyond that, I would say it was one of the worst experiences I’ve had parking downtown.
As soon as I pulled in, the attendant approached me and I had a Ferris Bueller moment. You know the point in the film where Cameron has doubts about parking in the city only to have his fears validated with extra mileage racked up on his dad’s Ferrari?
It’s not to say that I think my ’05 Malibu Maxx is ‘so choice’. It’s because, this is my car. This is how I get to work. If this gets trashed or wrecked or breathed on wrong, there are repercussions within my life that cause a cascading world of fail.
So, needless to say, when the attendant says, “If you want to park here, I need eight dollars and your keys” I feel that this is a time to give him only the actual key and take everything with me, including the car seat. Kidding, I left that but took anything of real value out with me and stuffed into my laptop bag.
After the meeting, I returned to an even fuller lot with cars lined up perpendicular to the parking spaces, effectively blocking my car into a tomb. I approached the attendant who was more concerned with collecting the money from new customers instead of helping those, who had already paid, get out. Makes sense, right? After you have paid, you are essentially at their mercy. They don’t care if you have a 20 minute ride back to the office to actually do work. They want the new money.
That’s when they made their mistake. One attendant tells me that there are 20 other people besides me who want to get out of the lot and they’ll get to my car eventually. I didn’t wear a coat but I had one on my front seat and my keyless entry FOB. I figured the least I could do is drop off my laptop bag and grab my jacket instead of freezing outside in the March weather while holding a bag full of my possessions that I felt held some sort of value as to not be left for stealing. While one attendant tells me it will be awhile, the other one says that my key is on the floor mat. ‘Really’, I thought. So, basically, anyone can just come onto the lot and take whatever car they want. I thanked the guy for the information but told him that my car was blocked in on either end.
Then he returned to taking money from more new customers while the rest of us sat and waited. After another five minutes I figured, ’Eff it.’ I had a plan. On my way back to my car, I noticed some poor schlub trying to sneak through a couple of other cars to get out. He basically scratched the hell out of the bumper on the car next to his. I told him to stop and I help him maneuver his car safely out of the space and saw the damage he inflicted on the neighboring car. Yeah, whatever reservations I had for my plan being a bad idea quickly went away with the thought of someone dinging up my car in order to get out. Because far be it from me to think that the lot would be responsible for any damage to my car.
I made it back to my car and saw that only one car stood between me and freedom, a black Mazda CX-9. It was unblocked on its front and back end. I looked around and said, “Let’s do this.” I opened the front door, grabbed the keys off the floor and sat for a minute looking for the damn ignition.
No keyhole. Just a simple knob which I figured out you pushed and turned with no key required. As I started up, I looked at the interior on this car and it was sweet. It was pretty well cared for which made me think, ‘This lady picked the wrong lot to park in’. No matter now. I threw the car into drive and away I went.
I drove it three feet.
Three feet was all that stood between me and freedom. I turned the car off, put the keys back on the floor mat and made doubly sure that the car was unlocked when I closed the door. I went back to my six year old station wagon, decked out in kiddie grime and empty wrappers and dusty dashboard and stained upholstery from spilled syrup due to an ill restrained sticky bun from Thanksgiving of 2006 and the torn ‘Babies R Us’ blinder in the back window, evidence of my kid’s inability to not tear something completely apart once she notices it are all reminders of how badly this car has fallen from grace from the day I drove it off the lot with only 36 miles on it.
Three feet away was a shiny, brand new, more expensive, and larger status symbol. But, I simply saw it as an obstacle. It was a symbol of my confinement. I was quite happy in my little Chevy five door. I just wanted out of the lot.
As I drove out of the lot I ran into the money grubbing lot attendant who attempted to block me in further with another car, but he begrudgingly got out of my way, probably unaware I nearly stole a car from his lot. I was free and this asshole wasn’t about to stop me, now. Out of my way!
You better believe I will never, again, park in the lot on Penn Ave, underneath the Crosstown Blvd. I’ll take my chances with quarters and a street meter. I still hope that lady was able to get in her CX-9. That would have sucked if I would have trapped her there with her keys locked in her car.