It was Saturday and the parking lot was intensely busy. By 10:30, my co-worker and I were telling people to find a place to park before they paid us the parking fee.
A car pulled in, and I approached it. A young blond woman was driving. Before I could say anything, she started talking. She had an accent my untrained ear pegged as Russian, but I don’t really know her ethnic/geographic origin.
She said, Is this valid parking?
I looked at her silently, confused, then said, What?
She said again, Is this valid parking?
I thought she meant Is this a legitimate/legal place to park?
Then I realized she was asking, Is this valet parking?
I busted out laughing.
I suppose some people do frequent establishments where they hand over their keys to a uniformed attendant who parks the car, but that’s not anyone I know. I’ve never once had a valet park my car. I’m not even sure where I’d go if I wanted to experience valet parking. (On second thought, I guess I’d try Las Vegas if I wanted to experience valet parking.) If I were on Family Feud and Steve Harvey said, Name a place where a valet parks your car, I might save the day by saying A casino, but probably I’d stand there silently and get a big fat X.
So when I realized this young woman had asked Is this valet parking? it was just about the funniest thing I’d heard all morning.
Who expects valet parking in a National Forest? At a casino, maybe. Or at a restaurant or hotel. (I guess I do have some idea of where valet parking occurs.) But at a National Forest? Is valet parking at a National Forest a thing?
A better question is, who would look at me in my dirty, stained uniform (probably with crushed mosquito remains over my left eye and ash smeared on my chin) and think I should be trusted with her/his car?
Through my laughter, I said to the young blond woman, Yeah, you give me your keys and go walk the trail, and I’ll drive your car around. (I waved my hand around, indicating I would drive her car not in the parking lot, but in the wider world of roads.)
She said, Then just tell me where to park!
I don’t blame her for being testy; I was being an asshole. But valet parking in the National Forest? That’s rich!
When the young woman walked up to pay her parking fee, I became very interested in the contents of my backpack and let my co-worker deal with her.
I think I’ll let the president of the company I work for know that what the parking lot needs is valet parking.