Parking Lot Guy

But enough about Monica…

There’s this guy. When I come to work each morning, I see this guy sitting in a little tiny roller skate car, like a Ford Aspire or something, really tiny car, and he sits there in that metal bubble and watches other people in bigger cars—because I’m almost certain that any car that he sees is bigger than the one he occupies—he watches everyone who works in this building drive into the lot that is way, way too small for the number of people who work here and his job is to make sure they park in their assigned spot.

Now, this guy is a bear, This guy is huge. This guy is about 6-2 and looks like George Lucas after a Wedding Cake binge. And he spends his entire day, his career, his eight hours, making sure other people park where they’re supposed to. Then he has to get out of his car and look carefully in the right-hand corner of the windshield where the laminated, laser-printed, Arial-fonted (because we live in an age where now people recognize fonts, for Chrissake) parking badge that could be easily faked if one really wanted to park in a parking space for a company other than the one they are employed by.

And then, because the only thing he can see from inside his car is whether or not the badge exists so he can tell people who definitely have no “right” to park in our lot that there’s a clearly marked sign at the entrance that clearly states in a clear Helvetica font that this is a private parking lot and you must have a badge to park here, he sometimes has to extract himself from that little car. Because not only must you have a badge, your badge must match the plaques mounted on the building which front each parking space with the name of a company that “owns” that space. So, as you see, he must on occasion get out of his tiny Clown Car and wander the lot checking to see if cars are parked where they ought to be.

This is the man who I think of in those times when I think I hate my job. “Gee,” I will say (sometimes aloud, for added effect), “at least I am not the huge Parking Policeman in the tiny car whose life consists of watching other people in bigger cars drive into the lot and park incorrectly.”

Garbage Strike

Everyone needs that person, the person we can feel sorry for when we are in a situation when we are feeling sorry for ourselves. I could have picked any number of much more detestable and disgusting jobs, but the people in those roles, I don’t see them every day. I wouldn’t want to be a garbageman, for example. (By the way, are there garbagewomen? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a female sanitary engineer.) But the garbage people—and I also wonder if they mind being referred to as “garbage people,” but you know what I mean—the garbage people usually pick up the garbage off the curb like magical pixies. I put the garbage cans out on Sunday night. On Monday morning it’s gone! Poof! Clang! Crash! Okay, so they’re extremely noisy magical pixies.

Or sewage. Pumping sewage out of the ground. Pulling up in your great big sewer service truck, hauling the great big hoses off the sides, digging a hole in the front yard to the sewer, sticking your hose in the hole and sucking out all the human waste. Mmm, boy howdy! Now that’s what I call gag reflex inducing!

But now I live in the city and I use municipal sewage and when I flush, I don’t have to worry about the consequences. I don’t see the great big sewer service trucks anymore, so I am not put in mind of them. I see fat George Lucas in his clown car every day, sitting there staring at me through the windshield. Every day. The same man in the same car at the same place watching to make sure I park where I’m supposed to.

I wonder why he doesn’t bring a paper or something with him. But then I think, he’s probably very dedicated to his job! What if he’s scanning his Horoscope (Great day for you, Gemini! The Sun and Moon are both in Virgo today. Be careful today. Dress neatly, right down to your shined shoes!) and misses seeing that Toyota drive by him and park in the spots reserved for the travel firm on third? Then he’ll have to go hunt down the despicable character and ask them to move their car—and while he’s doing that, who knows what sort of parking mayhem might ensue! People will park all higgledy-piggledy! The reserved space for the C.E.O. will be filled by some mother-of-two out for a quick stop at Convenient Mart (a store I love, if only for the name—it really is convenient!) and, unable to find parking on the street she thinks, “I’ll only be a second!”

Then he returns with the culprit in tow, only to discover a Taurus without a badge! And the searching and the parking lot perils just get worse and worse. It’s gotta be hard on his wife, too.

Honey! I’m Home!

“How was your day, dear?”

“You would not believe it.”

“Bad one? (Honey, let Mommy peel the carrots. You want some milk?)”

“Oh! This asshole in a Chevy Malibu actually tried to park in one of the travel agency’s places!”

“Don’t use the ‘A’ word dear.”

“Oop! Sorry.”

“What did you do? (Honey, don’t drink from the carton.)”

“Well, I had to get out of the car…”

“The office, you mean.”

“Right, the office. Had to get out of the office and go tell them to move their car.”

“Is that their car or their office?”

“Their car. My office.”

“And then what?”

“What do you mean?”

“What happened next?”

“Oh. They moved their car.”

“My, you did have a rough day.”

“Don’t I know it. Jeffy? Can you get Daddy a Bud Lite while you’re in there? That’s a good boy.”

Not that my job is an ongoing orgy of excitement and adventure, of course. Still, it makes things just a little more tolerable when I exit a particularly grueling meeting with a particularly stubborn client who has informed (dictated to) me that I can do anything I want with the interface as long as it’s Lime Green with red text and uses that 45k map of the United States as a background graphic and, no, I can’t soften the colors because then you couldn’t tell where Denver is.

And I’m not exaggerating.

Retroperspective

By and large, I have very little to complain about. But part of the satisfaction of any job is bitching about it. The commiseration that takes place with others of your profession, or with others in your company. I suppose the level of dissatisfaction lessens as one makes more money, but I wouldn’t necessarily know about that. Again, I can’t complain. My household income puts me above the poverty level, certainly, and I can go out to eat way more than I should (because I hate grocery shopping, but that’s another story) and I have a new car with new car payments and new car insurance and all the electronic gadgetry any self-respecting American male could possibly want, but it is also, I firmly believe, my God-given (because when I was in the laundromat this morning I was visited by a well-dressed Jahova’s Witness bearing literature stating that none of us need ever worry about a damn thing because God’s gonna take care of everything—I’m paraphrasing, here—so don’t let that lack of clean drinking water distract you from the rapture, and I ain’t talkin’ no Blondie oldies) right to whine and complain about, among other things, how loudly that woman in the office behind me talks on the phone and says “Mm hmm” over and over and over. I swear, I’m going to slap her.

See? I feel better just typing that. commiseration is what keeps most Postal Workers from living up to their reputation. It’s always the quiet ones that blow, you know. “Oh, he was always so nice and calm. Then one day, bam, he’s spraying ammo at the letter sorter and screaming like Rambo!” Anyway, from the looks of things the parking lot watcher doesn’t have nearly enough toys at his disposal. Me, I have a couple of snow globes, a little clay Peruvian whistle thing, a small clear plastic ball filled with fluid and a toy dolphin, the now infamous glowing hackey sack, a whole bunch of plush, stuffed vegetables (don’t ask) and the cow pig perched on my monitor for when my hands need something new to do beside type, type, type, mouse, mouse, type, type, mouse, mouse, mouse, click. I keep an Archie McPhee catalog (Collector’s Edition #58 just came in) on my desk at all times should I ever have a sudden craving for more useless trinketry.

I should also point out that most (all?) of these desk trinkets were sent to me by youse guys out there, so thank you a lot for that, you know who you are. Someone (Dee) also once sent me a bottle of champagne, bars of chocolate and crystal stemware some time back, but those are all long gone. Are you kidding, one whiff of alcohol sends this place into a feeding frenzy. I had to tell everyone it was a big bottle of Windex. But now I am so far off the beaten track that I can’t see the bread crumbs anymore.

Where was I?

Oh! Parking Lot Guy.

So, I thank the fates that I see Parking Lot Guy each day in his little clown car at the corner of the blacktop. Sometimes, when one’s head is aching and one’s carpal tunnel is acting up and one’s shoes are a tad too tight, one thinks fondly of PLG sitting at attention, dutifully on the lookout that no unlawful parking is taking place. And I thank the God who makes me disinterested in clean drinking water that I am not him.

September 18, 1998

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