Last week I had a meeting downtown at the VCU-MCV Hospital. Knowing parking is an issue down there, I left my apartment 40 minutes early. Okay, that's a lie. I left 30 minutes early, but still with enough time to go two miles and be at my meeting. You may remember I've had parking issues downtown before, but this time I figured I'd park at my usual place and walk a half mile to the hospital or, worse, in the hospital parking lot.
Of course, I remember my usual place is street parking, which is limited to two hours, and I have class after my meeting, so I need three hour parking. I decide to park in the public lot. So I park. It's 1:14. I have 16 minutes to walk half a mile and up three flights of stairs to my meeting. I walk over to the device to pay for parking. I click I'll be there for three hours. The machine asks for me $14.
Street parking is $2.50 for two hours. In what alternate reality would I pay $14?
I decide I'll park in my usual spot. I pull out of parking space and back onto the street. I turn onto the block of my usual spot. There's plenty of available parking. I prepare to parallel. Then I see the signs. Red city signs.
No parking after 8 am.
I check my car's clock. 1:17.
Okay. Onward to the hospital. It's a six-storey parking deck. I am not worried.
There is a line at the deck. I begin to panic when a tractor trailer follows me in and I am stuck. I can't back out. But where would I go? I have to park here.
The line moves. I am now at the entrance. A sign tells me the first three floors of the deck are full, but there are eight spots available on the second floor and five on the first floor. I am not worried.
I. Am. Not. Worried.
My meeting is actually on the second floor, so this will be perfect.
By 1:22, I am on the fourth floor of the garage and behind other cars. The Cadillac in front of me keeps stopping and stalking people walking out to their car. I don't have time for this. We know there is parking on the second floor. GO.
On the third floor, the Cadillac does this once again. It is 1:24. My blood pressure is broiling. A car has its lights on, but it's just sitting there, and this Cadillac insists on waiting for it.
I consider honking. I consider rolling down my window and yelling. Empty spots are so close. SO CLOSE! The sign said there were eight free spots. JUST GO, YOU DAMNED CADILLAC!
Finally, the Cadillac moves on.
We're on the second floor.
We're on the second floor and there are no open parking spaces.
What. I don't understand.
Okay, I'm not panicking.
First floor. The sign said five spots were available here. But then I round the corner, I see all the spots, they are all occupied, and I see the exit. And there is no way to go backward. I have to go forward. BUT THERE IS NO PARKING AND IT IS 1:29, AND MY VERY IMPORTANT MEETING BEGINS IN ONE MINUTE, AND OMG I AM NOT PANICKING!
The parking attendant takes my ticket, does not say anything, and lifts the barrier so I am back on the road, without parking, and officially late. I contemplate pulling over to email the people I'm supposed to be meeting that I'm late. Like, this meeting is important. I'm trying to impress the person I'm meeting. It's basically a preliminary interview. And I am late. Is there any worse faux pas in an interview? Maybe a criminal history?
What do I do?
I remember there is valet parking at the hospital. I never use valets, not at restaurants and certainly not at hospitals. But I am late. There is no parking. Absolutely no parking. What other options do I have?
I rev over to valet parking. I want to just hop out of my car, leave the keys in it, and sprint to meeting. But, of course, there is a line of cars seeking valet parking. Because, I'm betting, none of them could find parking either. Or they're rich b*tches. BUT NONE OF THEM ARE LATE TO THEIR MEETING.
Finally, the valet comes over to me. I don't ask the price. I just ask if I can go. She asks me if I can pull forward first.
"No, I can't," I want to cry. "I'm late."
I pull forward. "Can I just leave my keys here?" I beg.
And then I run. I wonder if there's a shortcut to my meeting. I decide I don't have time to explore and find out. I also sweat, both from running and from my imminent embarrassment at being late. I was wearing a nice outfit. I was hoping I would be able to re-wear these pants this week, but with this sweat storm, that's not happening.
I arrive to the meeting room. I'm the first one there. How is that possible? It's 1:36. At least this is better than the time I was late to court. Or to meeting my friend. But still very late when it comes to impressing someone.
And then, get this, the meeting only lasts ten minutes. I exit the meeting room at 1:46. I just paid for valet parking to show up in a room for ten minutes.
How much does valet cost? How much have I spent to shoot the breeze for ten minutes? I might as well have Ubered here.
I wonder if the valet will stare at me when I return for my car in the amount of time some people take just to shower. Instead, they ask me for five dollars. They only take cash. I then sit and wait for my car for fifteen minutes. It takes them longer to fetch my car than my meeting lasted. I wonder if they had only just parked my car by the time I returned.
My car pulls up at 2:02 pm. I get in and drive away. And then it hits me: I forgot to tip the valet. Maybe I did it on purpose.
I should have just Ubered.