In addition to my job as a camp host, I also work in the parking lot at a very popular trail head. It’s free to walk the trail, but there’s a $5 parking fee for folks who want to leave cars in our lot directly across from the entrance to the trail. Unfortunately, there’s not enough space for all the cars people want to park. A few more parking spaces have been added at the campground just down the road, but still, the parking area is inadequate.
I only got trained to do this job on the (cold, wet) Friday of Memorial Day Weekend. Fortunately, it’s not a difficult job.
A car pulls in. I signal the driver to come all the way down the driveway so other cars can pull in and get off the road. I tell the driver about the $5 parking fee. I collect $5 (making change if necessary) and hand the driver a trail guide and a day pass to hang from the rear view mirror. Then I send the car off to park.
The problem occurs when the lot is full, but the tourists keep coming.
On the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, people started packing in around eleven in the morning. The lot was already nearly full when a group of people in 15 to 20 cars started pulling in. The road in the parking area is a loop, and this group created a logjam while they sat parked in the driving area, waiting (and hoping) for other cars to leave.
About then, my (older, more experienced) coworker said there was no point in even letting more cars into the parking area. I stationed myself at the entrance to the lot and told folks who wanted to park their cars that we could not accommodate them.
Most people wanted to know where they could park. I told them they could try the campground, but I expected its parking areas were full too.
People began parking on the side of the narrow highway, despite danger and “no parking” signs. I told people it was illegal to park there and if a ranger came along, they’d probably get a ticket. Many people decided to take their chances.
I saw an older (fit and seemingly wealthy) couple I’d turned away from the parking lot get out of their car, which they were leaving on the side of the highway. I walked over to the man and explained: illegal–ranger–ticket. He said there was a “no parking” sign over there (pointing), but not where he was parked. I told him I was simply giving him information, he could make his own decisions.
He pulled out his wallet and asked how much he owed me.
I said, Oh, no sir. There’s no charge to park illegally. If I took your money, I’d be sanctioning your decision to park there.
Then I walked off, imagining how–if I took his money and he got a ticket–he’d tell a ranger or a judge he thought it was ok to park there because he’d paid a fee to an employee.
No way. Not this employee.
To read more stories of the parking lot, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/06/13/wackadoodles-in-the-parking-lot/ and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/07/07/bill-clinton-rude-lesbians-and-a-hypocrite/.