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May 8, 2008

I think I pressed my parking luck

Remember how my parking lot attendant was creeping me out? Since writing that post I haven’t been back to his garage. Sometimes my van spends the day at a meter. At times I’ll cough up $4 to hitch my wagon at a bowling alley’s lot.

But lately, upon the advice of some sneaky co-workers, I’ve been leaving Ol’ Red in a (free!) hotel parking lot that has signs everywhere stating that only hotel guests may park there. There’s a greasy-haired, snaggle-toothed gremlin who watches from the hotel’s back doors to guard against malfeasance, and the game is to exit your car, duck out under the garage’s overhang, speedwalk up a hill and down the street to the office without him catching you.

About a month ago, I lost. I had pulled in next to a coworker and was nervously chatting with him before making my trek up the hill. I had turned the corner to the street, thinking I was safe, when the gremlin literally ran up to me, waving his arms, telling me my actions were verboten.

“You can’t (heave) park there (heave) unless you’re a (heave) hotel guest,” he panted.

“Oh really?” I asked innocently. “I didn’t see a sign.”

I apologized and drove across the street to the bowling alley. I waited a few days before trying again, and since then I’ve only parked there if I arrive by 8:40, figuring he doesn’t start patrolling until about 8:45.

This morning, I did everything right. I left my house on time, made sure there were no shadowy signs of life from the back door before I parked, silently locked and closed my doors, and began my speed walk up the hill. When I reached the street I thought I was safe, but the gremlin appeared on the second floor of the parking garage below me.

“Ma’am!” he screamed. “You can’t park there! Ma’am! MA’AM!”

I ignored him, thinking that if he caught up to me I could claim to have been listening to an iPod and didn’t hear him. When he started moving like he planned to follow me on my trajectory, I cut across the street and headed to the courthouse, thinking I could claim sanctuary.

“MA’AM! I’LL TICKET AND TOW YOU! MA’AM! DON’T YOU WALK AWAY FROM ME!”

I walked away from him and into the courthouse. I had to get a refund from the post office there anyway. When I was done, I circled around the government buildings and entered the skywalk, not wanting to reveal my place of employment in case he was still watching.

I don’t think he’ll really tow me… He didn’t see me get out of the car so there would be a chance that he towed the wrong one. Plus, I’m parked inside the garage between two cars. Could a tow truck really get in there?

Regardless, from now on, since I’m something of a wuss, my free ride (park?) is over.

Update: I followed a complicated route around the hotel at 11 a.m. so I could catch a glimpse of my car. She was safe. I returned for another peek at four, this time risking a route that put me much more out in the open. After ascertaining she was right where I left her, I hesitated, thinking maybe I should just drive to a meter so I wouldn’t have to make another harrowing journey to the site when I was done with work. The exact moment I was about to go into the garage, the gremlin drove right past me in a hotel van. I cast my eyes shoe-ward in hopes that he wouldn’t recognize me, then continued walking down the sidewalk in case he was spying on me from his rearview mirror. Then I jumped in Ol’ Red and got the heck out in my Dodge (get it?).

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