Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Have a great day


A
n odd phenomenon has been transpiring in the last three or so weeks.

When I park my car every workday morning in a parking garage down the block from my office, an employee of this parking garage tells me to "have a great day."

Employees are perched at all exits on stools, and say "Have a great day," as I groggily exit the structure. For every customer that enters or exits the building's lobby, this process is repeated.

It is astonishing that a parking structure company would waste its financial resources by paying people to wish me a good day - both in the morning when I arrive and again in the eveing when I head to D-Town.

This seems to be their only job function.

Lest you think this is some marketing gimmick to differentiate their parking garage from competitors, there is not a battle for consumers of parking spots in this town. Parking spaces are few and far between. Demand is high. Supply is low. Customer service should be low on the list of priorities, at least according to Adam Smith.

Anyway, this new employee-driver exchange inevitably leads to two varieties of awkward social interaction. Either the employee, usually a college-aged person, puts the effort into looking up from the book he/she is reading and gives me a "Have a great day," much like the faux-perky flight attendant wishes me a "buh-bye" every time I wish to exit a commercial airplane.

Or the parking employee is mailing it in, and can barely be bothered to look at me and mumble "Have a great day."

Either way, it is awkward, because I now must anticipate some sort of greeting and formulate a response. Do I match the eagerness of the enthusiastic greeting? Do I give a response to the half-hearted gesture? Do I ignore those entirely?

The mere fact I must contemplate such things at an ungodly hour is an unwanted intrusion and hassle.

Before you dismiss me as a grouch, let it be known that I have no problem greeting a person I consider a friend, a co-worker, perhaps a merchant I'm engaging with for the purposes of a consumer transaction. I'm not too cantankerous for a friendly hello.

But this is icky. Someone whom I have no actual meaningful connection to has been hired for the express purpose of posing as my friend. It's friend prostitution. If they were not "on the job," do you think they would give me the time of day? Of course not.

Holden Caulfield would have a field day with these phonies.

Someone at my office has pointed out that perhaps these greeters have an alternate purpose: weeding out any riff raff that attempt to enter the premises. And to be fair, that is a possibility. The occasional Dodge -- and only Dodges, for whatever reason -- has been stolen from this six-layered deck, and there is the occasional bum who craps in the corner of the stairwell.

But I have never witnessed an employee investigate the legitimacy of someone's presence in the structure.

Overall, there's a broader question to be answered than merely "What the hell are these employees doing?" It's about what I, as a parking consumer, expect from my parking deck. Here's a rough outline of what I consider to be a Parking Decker's Bill of Rights:
  • I expect to find a space in the morning.
  • I do not expect an employee guiding me in between the yellow lines, like the way rampers guide airliners into their gates with fluorescent cones.
  • I expect reasonable security measures to be taken in preventing the theft of my car or items within it.
  • I expect it to have proper lighting, in order to deter any lunatics from going Jesus Rossi on an unsuspecting motorist.
  • I expect to be allowed to escape in a timely fashion, without long lines at the pay window.
  • It's a nice bonus if the stairwells don't reek of urine.
And I include that last one only as a bonus, because I don't think any Parking Decker has the expectation that a parking garage is going to smell like the White House Rose Garden, much like you don't use an outhouse expecting it to smell like maple syrup.

By its nature, a parking garage is not a place I want to spend any meaningful length of time. If they can follow the above rules, I'm a happy customer.

Stop trying to dress it up. I have enough friends.

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5 Comments:

At 5:19 PM, Blogger SJPSandman said...

I just wanted to point out that as far as I know, every newspaper in NJ has a parking lot and don't need decks (just ask Joe Z). Just another on a long list of reasons NJ rules and everywhere else sucks.

By the way, cat, "Jesus Rossi," GREAT obscure Sopranos reference.

 
At 5:48 PM, Blogger Pete said...

Cat,

We have a lot and a deck.

The deck actually is a bonus for me, because it is adjacent to downtown, so if Mrs. VFR and I want to do some socializing, we have free parking.

Glad you enjoyed the Rossi reference. I figured someone would get that schtick.

Leaving the garage today, some clown actually chased me down to bid me farewell for the day. Ridiculous.

 
At 9:14 PM, Blogger Matt Hooban said...

My initial response:

Dear Oscar,

Crawl back in your trash can if you don't like it, you crank pot.


And then I thought, nah, that's really not fair. After all, the piece is funny. I mean, even though he's complaining about a company going out of its way to be cheery...

But it kind of puts the "eerie" in cheery (or cheerie?) to notice that in the comments, you mention that one of their employees actually chased after you. That's fucking nuts, pardon my French. That's the paper boy in Better Off Dead style nuts.

I'd expect that kind of tenacity from a jilted ex, but a parking lot attendant? No way.

Still, I did want to offer the suggestion that it's possible for a company to be working on things like crime reduction, proper lighting, and removal of homeless people (and their feces) while they go for the easy wins at the same time. Just because they've so far only managed to achieve a frightening brand of courtesy doesn't necessarily mean they're throwing a tapestry over a four-foot hole in the wall.

It probably means that. But you never can be too sure with parking garages in this day and age.

 
At 11:55 PM, Blogger Joependleton said...

Cat, park in NYC, where the attendants don't speak English and if they do, they are usually yelling at me where to park my car (something they should be doing). Have you considered that you now live in the midwest, where people are generally nicer - in a dumb kinda way.

 
At 11:56 PM, Blogger Joependleton said...

By the way, as I type this, I'm watching NFL network, which is showing the replay of the Browns playoff disaster in Pittsburgh. Sorry

 

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