Blogger for a Day: Sure the City is Great, but Where do I Park?
This is a very typical Charlotte conversation:
"Yeah, where are we going, where is it?"
"Just past Cedar, 3rd Ward. Maybe."
For those ever enticed to go Uptown, the question most ask is "where do I park?" One wrong lot choice and you're paying $10 to see a free show your buddy is playing at NAME THAT BAR. Oh, the meter system is cool, if you’re sober and willing to remember numbers and times, and make them all work together.
Then there are other nightlife hubs, such as NoDa and Plaza Midwood. Does buying a pack of gum at CVS cover you as a customer, still parked there 3 hours later? As you dance at Shiprocked, you can't shake your own answer. No. Do you use a five step three point turn? Better take a cab or your fixie to Common Market.
Few things are more nerve racking than the moment you make the choice to leave your car parked in a place towing and or booting could result. I mean we all know you want to buy a gallon of paint at Sherwin Williams, you just didn't know they were closed at 10pm on a Friday night. How can you pacify your decorating desires? Shoot some pool at EB’s.
When parking for large events, we sometimes take a calculated risk. We go for safety in numbers, taking one questionable decision as rationale for our action. It's the time you go at it alone, park to go to one business, and perhaps another business has deemed a parking spot theirs. Furthermore, they have paid a man to sit there and enforce that decree. That’s when they get you.
Not thinking or reading a sign haphazardly posted, you visit a neighboring business sharing the same lot, and your $3 latte ends up costing $128. A humorous side of these apparently legal booting and towing practices is the otherwise calm individual completely losing it on a guy who, aside from not caring, has sent much larger men to the hospital.
Now, let's look at the boot-put-er-on-guy. I'll call him Tony. I'm prefacing this by saying, I'm writing this to metaphysically try to forgive myself for being an aforementioned raging, booted parker.
As the reader you likely have a job, and if part of that job requires you to do things you would only do if paid, keep an open mind. I'm not saying morally reprehensible things. I'm saying you probably never offer to cook your burger at McDonalds, and likely the man cooking it wouldn't be either, if he wasn't being compensated.
When Tony wakes up each morning, I'm sure he's not thrilled to boot cars, be cussed at, or fight. He does it for a paycheck. Well, at least the first two. After stabbing someone your lawyer fees tend to mount up, and you have to check your excitement.
So as we, citizens of this town, go forth to be booted or towed remember, it’s that neighboring business or property manager that hired Tony that we should be upset at. Rather than pointlessly yelling at a guy on your lunch break over $50, take action that counts. Organize a boycott or call the people who hired Tony. Tony has done time, Tony is way bigger than you, and Tony wants his paycheck. With all that taken into consideration, we are a town of banks; the ATM probably isn't far away.
Laissez-faire is a French term that translates to let them do it. Them were French merchants. The ones asked to let was the government. Allow demand, supply, and worth determine which enterprises fail or succeed. This simple ideal is followed and or favored by most free trade economies. Could Charlotte employ a brilliant and defiant centuries old philosophy to parking in some areas?
I'm not calling for parking anarchy, where people park on the sidewalks if they feel like it. These mavericks getting out of their vehicles, lighting a "strike anywhere" match on their hood. The bellowing smoke of the non-ﬁltered cigarette distracts but for a second the crisscrossed sawed off shotguns, tethered across their back, with homemade snakeskin straps.
As you observe this bold park job, said driver looks at you saying Kings Drive Farmers Market on a Tuesday… Welcome to Thunderdome!
This, no matter how far along I am with my post-apocalypse street buggy vehicle, is not what I mean.
Simply stated, as a business sharing a lot with other merchants, a pay lot in center city or some other person who makes these kinds of parking choices, calling Tony should be the very last resort. Explore other options for protecting your lease afforded number of parking spaces.
A wanted list style poster of repeat offenders, social media exposure of infractions, or keeping a hive of Africanized bees surrounded by leashed cobras around your spaces. I’m kidding about the social media one, but you get the drift.
Instead, parking powers that be, shop owners, and fire hydrants alike, trust vehicle leavers to make decisions rather than take risk. Let them park, and see what happens. Track sales during hours of coexisting business and log customer complaints in regards to finding a spot. In other words, before letting Tony loose, identify an actual problem, rather than an assumed one.
Now I will say a time and a place exist to enforce or defend your lot from "parking vampires" whose only intention is to take your spaces at a time you need them, before disappearing into the night. Conversely, if your eclectic seashell and polished rock boutique closes at 5 PM do you have to call Tony for the patrons of Nasty Nate's Night Owl Tavern? Sure they take up a few spots at 11 p.m., but most of this bar’s loyal customers are scooter riders. The people with cars bought a drink deal off Groupon, and before getting booted remembered how much their aunt loves making pet rocks. Potential customers that may not return, either for fear of tire restraint, or seeing your rock and shop as a villain. Aunty Mildred gets saltshakers that hypertension force her to trash, and another Aunt Day goes by wrought with disappointment.