To continue my posts on driving, I would like to examine another specimen–the ominous, the abysmal, the tomb-like death trap we all know and love: the parking garage.
Now I am familiar with two general varieties of parking garages: the mostly above ground type and the strictly below ground garages. These latter types are also known as crypts, believe it or not, due to the high body counts they acquire. Either variety you pick, however, have beasts waiting within their labyrinths of blind corners and enough riddles to make you stop and question life’s conundrums.
I give you: the magical parking garages.
Parking garages are modern day tests of bravery and virtue. I do not jest when I compare navigating them to Hercules’s 12 Labors, the Trojan War and perhaps even soothing a collicky baby.
Before one enters a parking garage, one must confront the Sphinx: the ticket distributor machine. You must answer the riddle: do I already own a parking pass or do I need to acquire a ticket? And alas–which button do I press? Ah, well, I’ll press them all. Oh, something popped out. Quest one: treasure acquired!
Now I’m giving you grace you pulled through the entrance lane and the security arm lever went promptly up to allow you to enter the cave of wonders. Some travelers, alas, pull over and block traffic while staring at the sky in blank confusion. What is money? they ask. Where am I? How did it come to this?
But press on because now we’re to level 2: finding a parking spot.
Finding a parking spot may sound straight forward, but don’t get too confident. You must watch out for the prairie cats and jack rabbits, or the pedestrians forced to play chicken with cars entering because there’s no clear, safe route to exit the garage.
Barring any involuntary manslaughter, you’ll find yourself going 4mph behind the person who pressed all the buttons to get in. They’re confused; they pause. They break for invisible faeries. They believe they can fit their 12-passenger van into a compact parking spot. They are the lost drivers. I would light a candle for them, but I think gas tanks could explode.
Let’s say you find a parking spot and manage to pull in. But oh, the car next to you is over their line. No matter; pull out and move over a spot. But wait: someone is coming down the ramp behind you, the wrong way. They are the derring do no gooders, the people whom the rules don’t apply to.
You roll a D&D dice and you decide your strategy: you point at the one way sign. They stare at you. You stare back and point at the sign again. You crawl your vehicle forward. They creep forward in turn. This continues a few more times until the gloves come off and you’re due in court next Thursday for a preliminary hearing. We didn’t quite make it after all.
Our adventure ends here, alas. Perhaps we rolled the wrong number for our choice. We could have parked and gotten hit by a car rounding one of many blind corners. Or maybe the exit lanes were blocked by people who don’t realize parking downtown is almost never free. Truly.
But there is always a last stratagem and I’ve seen it often. When in doubt, ram the barricades. Off the parking security levers go and your car is now free. No need to pay the toll when we grow frustrated with the Sphinx of perplexity!
And you, my friend, are now a wanted criminal. Congratulations, you’ve solved the labyrinth. I think.