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An afternoon choose-your-own-adventure







You have to get a document signed at an activist organization in the center of Springfield. When you get to the destination, you see that there's no on-street parking. The organization is located next to a condemned building. Behind the condemned building there appears to be some parking, but it looks full. There's a Burger King across the street--one could park there. Further ahead, there seems to be a parking lot.

Do you (a) attempt to park behind the condemned building, (b) park at the Burger King, or (c) drive toward the parking lot?

If you choose (a), you discover it's full. You have to make a 36-point turn in a small space and exit, whereupon your choices are (b) and (c).

If you choose (b), do you (d) buy something at the BK (y'know, to make it legit that you're parking there) or (e) go straight to the activist organization? If (d), congrats, you get something yummy to eat. Now you're at (e). Hold that thought.

Or do you--as I did--choose (c)? If so, you discover that it's a permit-only parking lot for the nearby community college. However, there are **lots** of open spaces. Do you (f) park there anyway, or (g) go driving further afield?

If you choose (g), you get pretty far down the street and see that there's no place available AT ALL EVER. Oh, wait, but here's a charismatic church's parking lot. You could park here; it's not Sunday. If you choose to (h) park here, you have a long walk back to the activist organization (e).

I turned back around, however, and decided to park illegally in the community college parking lot (f). If you choose this, you observe that there's a parking lot monitor on duty. Do you (i) revert to (g) or (b)? Or do you (j) slink out of the car thinking, "Whatever, man, just ticket me." Or do you (k) decide to approach him and ask if he knows a place you could park legally? (Why would you do this? just do (b) and get the Burger King food! But (k) was my decision.)

"Well, you're obviously a student here," the guard says. Confronted with this misapprehension, do you (l) correct him or (m) let the misconception stand? If you choose (l), I can't imagine what he does. Does he blow up at you? Tell you to park at the (b) Burger King? Or maybe say, "Allll Right, JUST THIS ONCE you can park here"? Who knows. As you can tell, I went with (m). He told me where I could go to get a parking permit.

"But what about right now?" I said. "What should I do right now? With my car?"

"You can leave it here while you get the permit. But by next week they're going to be ticketing."

So that brings me to (e). I hadn't had a very good impression of this activist organization up to now, but when I got in the door, I was greeted by a whole bunch of really engaged, friendly seeming people, mainly people of color, not crusading white folks, which is appropriate for the location, and there were all sorts of useful-seeming handouts in pockets on the walls, and I got a very energetic, positive feeling from it. Which goes to show you how different an in-person impression can be.

On my way back, I didn't see the parking lot attendant, so there was no need to dig myself deeper into deception. I did, however, overhear this conversation:

Woman, rolling down car window, and directing her remarks to a guy who was helping repair the parking lot fence: "Don't be trying to pretend you don't know me, and then come round trying to kidnap my baby!" The guy said something I couldn't hear, and then voices rose, and I was thinking, "Yiiiiikes," but then the woman in the car was laughing, and the guy was smiling, and then the car drove off so . . . all's well that ends well?


Comments

( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
danceswithwaves
Sep. 26th, 2016 08:38 pm (UTC)
Quite the adventure!

I probably would have parked in the church and walked, but then, I'm a bit paranoid about being ticketed because I've been ticketed before in places I thought were fine. (Once for a street sweeper when I was at a friend's place and they told me I could park on the street but forgot that was street sweeping day. And once when there were other cars parked in this area with parking meters but it was only good to park there at certain hours - and I parked there *just* before the time change. There were new cars parked there when I left and only I had a ticket. I almost fought it because of that, and because the no parking signs weren't super obvious, but I didn't want to take the time.)
asakiyume
Sep. 26th, 2016 08:40 pm (UTC)
You definitely wouldn't have gotten ticketing in the church lot *and* you would have had the benefit of exercise. (That's really bad luck about the parking meters!)
shewhomust
Sep. 26th, 2016 09:01 pm (UTC)
Do you think it was really a misconception? I mean, did he really think you were a student there, or was he offering you a deal: you let him turn a blind eye, because he had his cover story?
asakiyume
Sep. 26th, 2016 09:04 pm (UTC)
That's a good point! It's a community college, so they do get many older students (i.e., we wouldn't both have to be pretending that he mistook me for a 20 year old), but yeah, maybe that's what it was. Although he was asking me if I know where building 56 was, and what floor to go to, so if it was a mutual face-saving ruse, it was a complex one.
scallywag195
Sep. 26th, 2016 09:36 pm (UTC)

I would have picked Burger King, ran in and used the bathroom, slunk out (pretending I'd already eaten) and then gone to destination. Probably out of guilt would have bought something on my return to parking lot.

asakiyume
Sep. 27th, 2016 01:59 am (UTC)
I'm always afraid the Bathroom Guard are going to accost me and say, "Excuse me, Madam, but have you patronized our establishment? Because our bathrooms are only for paying customers."

I like your idea of returning after the job is done, though--that would make it all legit, and that way you get your reward at the end, rather than the beginning.
amaebi
Sep. 27th, 2016 12:38 pm (UTC)
I used to fear Bathroom Guard, but finally I believe them to be mere boogeybeasts.
heleninwales
Sep. 27th, 2016 05:19 pm (UTC)
That's what I do when I park at our small supermarket. Not use the bathroom, because they don't have one, but I park in their car park, walk into the centre of town, do whatever I need and then come back and do my supermarket shopping.
asakiyume
Sep. 28th, 2016 10:56 am (UTC)
And that's totally legitimate.

I actually find signs that say "for patrons only" to be hugely unfriendly, but in some cases I guess businesses put them up because they've actually had problems (though I wonder how serious... I wonder if it would really kill them to just let, for example, homeless people use the toilets... but that's a train of thought for a different post). But even supposing you have a policy of only letting patrons use your toilets, if you're a regular patron of the place, then even if you're not shopping there on this trip, it seems to me you count as a patron.

Regarding parking lots, I can understand a business not wanting people to park there if it often runs short on spaces, but with the Burger King, that's not a problem, and I bet it's not a problem for your little supermarket, either.
heleninwales
Sep. 29th, 2016 07:50 am (UTC)
Due to government cuts, local councils have been trying to save money by closing public toilets. They have introduced schemes to pay cafes and other businesses to allow non-customers to use their facilities. It's not an answer really, but it does recompense the business for the extra usage and thus you can use the toilets with a clear conscience.

Regarding the parking at our supermarket, it can get quite full on a Friday (the day of the cattle market) but I've never been unable to find a space. In bigger towns and cities, however, you can end up circling a car park for ages waiting for someone to leave. They often have schemes whereby you have to pay to park if you haven't bought anything at the store.
judo100
Sep. 26th, 2016 10:05 pm (UTC)
Adventures in parking! I believe I would have used the BK lot, bought something there, and even used their bathroom. THEN sauntered over to the community center. Glad you didn't get ticketed.

Recently I was supposed to bring my artwork to a community college that had invited me to be in one of their shows. On the day THEY had specified to bring the work, the place was mobbed. Seems it was new student sign up day. Every lot had signs about parking there (or not), but few of the new students had any sort of parking pass. About a million cars milled around, worried about getting ticketed. I finally parked my car illegally right in front of the building where the art show was, unloaded my work, found the person in charge and told her my work was there, and hightailed it out of there. No convenient BK to put the car in.
asakiyume
Sep. 27th, 2016 02:02 am (UTC)
You were lucky to find a spot! (You would have thought they could have given you a day pass or something, seeing as you were there on their invitation!)
sartorias
Sep. 26th, 2016 10:11 pm (UTC)
I think I would regard all parking possibilities as a Divine Sign that I was to order and eat some delicious french fries!
asakiyume
Sep. 27th, 2016 02:02 am (UTC)
If I hadn't been suffering from a nervous stomach, I'm sure that's what I would have done. I would have gotten the onion rings.
duccio
Sep. 26th, 2016 11:25 pm (UTC)
I'd park at the charismatic church... I need to walk more often. Good for my heart. But, instead, parking in the community college parking lot, I'd say the attendant was winking when he said "obviously, you're a student,". A tactic that seems to work lately: you could always ask him for ID and a birth certificate which he might have to go and get - from the activist organization. You would have to be sure to be in line first.
asakiyume
Sep. 27th, 2016 02:03 am (UTC)
I like to think of the two of us racing to be the first through the door at the activist organization ;-)
amaebi
Sep. 27th, 2016 03:09 am (UTC)
I love overheard conversation
It would be great to paint them, wouldn't it?

So many really different spaces people come from!
asakiyume
Sep. 28th, 2016 10:57 am (UTC)
Re: I love overheard conversation
I would love to do that! I still have a vivid image in my head. Unfortunately my drawing skills are not sufficient to represent them the way I'd like to.
heliopausa
Sep. 27th, 2016 06:28 am (UTC)
I enjoyed the adventure. :) I'd have parked at Burger King, and would probably not have worried about buying anything to eat.
The two people you overheard sound like they were playing, like she's maybe his future mother-in-law. (Always an interesting relationship.)
asakiyume
Sep. 28th, 2016 10:59 am (UTC)
I suspect she's an ex-girlfriend because she seems to be about the same age, but it looks like they're friendly exes, rather than hostile ones.

I honestly don't know why I didn't choose the Burger King but I suspect it's because I couldn't see the entrance to its parking lot.
khiemtran
Sep. 27th, 2016 10:48 am (UTC)
This is where I'd a) park at the first place I could find, even if it's miles away, and walk in or b) after being granted access by the guard, join the community college on voluntary basis and somehow work my way up through the ranks until I was in a management position just so it wouldn't be awkward for either of us...
oiktirmos
Sep. 27th, 2016 11:21 am (UTC)
Searching Algorithms and Ethics by Asakiyume, c2016.
As always you are in sync with MA news.
'Little old ladies' upset after cars towed from Burger King parking lot http://www.newhampshire.com/article/20140121/NEWS07/140129937/-1/newhampshire
mnfaure
Sep. 27th, 2016 07:14 pm (UTC)
LOL

heliopausa
Sep. 27th, 2016 11:17 pm (UTC)
My goodness! Noted, very carefully.
asakiyume
Sep. 28th, 2016 11:02 am (UTC)
Yeah, towing is awful!
asakiyume
Sep. 28th, 2016 11:02 am (UTC)
Yiiiiikes. I'm glad I made the decision I did!

Boston fast-food joints may have different circumstances, but out here, most people seem to go through the drive through (something I would never do... I hate the idea of drive through for lots of reasons), leaving the lot open. In which case, parking there isn't inconveniencing anyone.

Being ticketed is one thing--being towed is a thousand times worse!
ericmarin
Sep. 28th, 2016 03:53 am (UTC)
I'd have chosen the church lot, assuming it wasn't posted with no parking signs, and the long walk, but you had a much more interesting experience than I would have. :-)

Regarding the overheard conversation, I wonder if they were a divorced or no-longer-together couple who still get along and stay in touch because of the child they had together? Whatever the background, I'm glad it ended in laughter and smiles.
asakiyume
Sep. 28th, 2016 11:05 am (UTC)
Your guess about the couple is the same as mine. And I think the guy honestly just couldn't make out who she was from the distance they were at, and she was teasing him about it, or something--but yeah, very happy it ended as it did.

You might have had an interesting experience: who knows what you would have seen or encountered on the walk.
pdlloyd
Sep. 28th, 2016 04:12 am (UTC)
I'm very glad you chose the right parking lot. These adventures can be . . . so interesting.
asakiyume
Sep. 28th, 2016 11:06 am (UTC)
I think any of these options could have been right; I was lucky in how things played out for me, though, for sure!
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )

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