Independence Day Parking Lot Circus


The Saturday of Independence Day weekend was normal holiday busy. I sold 87 day passes, and my co-worker sold 77. Everybody in the parking lot was friendly, no one complained, and nothing particularly interesting happened.

This is the busiest day of the season, I told my co-worker. It’s all downhill from here. I was wrong.

The Sunday of Independence Day weekend was the real clusterfuck.

I arrived at the parking lot an hour earlier than usual because I wanted to be sure I had a place to park. We got busy almost as soon as I arrived.

The problem wasn’t so much that many people wanted to park in a small parking lot at the same time. I’ve handled that before. I know that if people keep moving, the great circle of parking lot life brings cars in and takes cars out so new cars can park in their places.

The problem on the Sunday of Independence Day weekend was that people were being stupid and selfish.

One would think a parking lot attendant would not have to tell drivers not to park in the roadway. However, on the Sunday of Independence Day weekend, people were parking any old where. Twice I ran down the road that loops through the lot to tell people the parking halfway in the roadway was not acceptable.

Other people had parked partially on the pavement, just barely giving cars room to roll by. Even though the vehicles weren’t in the middle of the roadway, the way they parked barely gave big pickup trucks and SUVs room to get through. I don’t think giant motor homes could have gotten through at all.

At least three times I ran toward the parking lot entrance waving my arms and shaking my head, trying to convey NO! and STOP! when big motor homes tried to pull in. I was afraid a big RV would not be able to pass the vehicles stupidly parked halfway on the pavement. Most of the motor homes that come into the parking lot are rented, and most people driving rented motor homes don’t drive them very well. I didn’t expect an inexperienced driver of a motor home to be able to back the thing up if moving forward proved impossible. It seemed better to just keep the motor homes out.

The problem with people blocking cars began right before 1pm.

In all of last season, I never saw anyone block in a stranger’s car. I saw it happen once earlier this season, when one car parked at an angle, a little too close to a stranger’s car and made it just barely impossible for the second car to back out. On the Sunday of Independence Day weekend, some people just quit giving a fuck and began parking their cars so other people couldn’t get out.

The first guy who reported his car blocked was a large Latino man. He told me he wanted to slash some tires. When I repeated this to my co-worker, he made a good point: If the man slashed the tires of the car blocking his, when the owners of the blocking car returned, the flat tires would deep them from moving the car out of his way.

The second person to complain of a blocked car was a senior citizen, bird watching white lady. She told me and my co-worker her car had been blocked and asked if we wrote tickets. When we said no, she asked if we had guns. I’m not sure how she thought a gun would help, since there was no one in the car blocking hers to wave a gun at.

Later in the afternoon, a man with an East Indian accent told me he’d parked behind another vehicle and asked me if that was ok. I told him it wasn’t ok to park behind another vehicle if he didn’t know the people driving it. He said the vehicle was parked on a log, and he didn’t think it ever left the parking lot, and he was only going to be gone about an hour. Was it ok if he parked behind it? My co-worker was gone for the day, so I was not able to leave my post at the front of the lot to see what in the hell he was talking about. (Parked on a log?) I assured him the driver of any vehicle parked in the lot had the intention of leaving and it was NOT OK to park behind any vehicle. I told him if the driver of the vehicle he’d blocked returned first and wanted to leave and couldn’t, the driver will want to fight you! He said again he’d only been gone about an hour, and I told him again it was NOT OK to block any car. I don’t know if he moved his vehicle, but no one else complained about being blocked in, so I suppose everything worked out.

In the midst of the stupid parking and more cars than the lot would hold, a different man with an East Indian accent reported that one of the cars in his party wouldn’t start. He told me they needed jumper cables. I told him he should ask around the parking lot for a set. I was afraid if I loaned him mine, they’d get lost in the hubbub and I’d never see them again, or the people would blow up their car and try to blame my equipment. Besides, I really didn’t have time to leave my post collecting parking fees to dig them out.

Some time later, a young man with an East Indian accent came up to me as I was directing the driver of an incoming car and said, Our car really really won’t start. I advised him the nearest payphone was about ten miles away at a private campground. He said they were staying at that campground. I asked him if their group had another car, and he said it did. I told him they should probably go to the campground in the other car and use the payphone to call roadside assistance.

During a slight lull in the stupidity, a man with a Spanish accent approached me to ask if anyone had turned in any keys. I told him no. Turns out a large extended family was milling about because the keys to one of their vehicles had been lost. There were questions about what would happen to the truck if they left it to go home and get a spare key. There was checking with the campground next door to learn if the keys had been turned in to the camp hosts. (They had not.) Finally, a couple of very young women came back to the parking lot, keys in hand. The heroes! I’m not sure where they’d found the keys–on the trail, maybe. The entire family was relieved and finally headed out.

Not long after that key situation was resolved, a woman approached me to pay her parking fee. Unfortunately, she told me, my husband locked the keys in the car. Do you have one of those things? I assumed she meant a slim jim, and I said I didn’t have one. I said the nearest phone was ten miles away. She said, Well, I didn’t bring my AAA card with me. (What kind of idiot gets into her car without her AAA card?) I told her she should ask around the parking lot for someone who knew how to jimmy the lock. She laughed nervously, but that worked at least once in the past.

When I left the parking lot after 3:30, there were still lots of people milling about, cars arriving and cars leaving. I hoped the people figured out the self-pay system.

I sold 122 day passes that Sunday and lost a little more of my hope for humanity.

This note--written on the back of a day pass--was found on the day after the events of this post took place. It pretty much sums up the day.

This note–written on the back of a day pass–was found on the day after the events of this post took place. It pretty much sums up the day.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now I have a little travel trailer parked in a small RV park in a small desert town. I also have a minivan to travel in. When it gets too hot for me in my desert, I get in my minivan and move up in elevation to find cooler temperatures or I house sit in town in a place with air conditioning I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

4 Responses »

  1. Whatever they pay you for those days, I’m sure it isn’t enough.

    The facility should have a sign that reads “Improperly parked vehicles will be towed”, and then call a tow company.

    Funny story: A friend lived in a rental complex, across the street from a park that had ‘Events’ periodically, and people would park in the complex parking spots and block the driveways. At some point, she got married — to a man who owned a tow company. **evil grin** Whenever an event was scheduled, he brought one of the trucks home, if he had one to spare. He made a sign from a sawhorse: “Improperly parked vehicles WILL be towed” and set it at the entrance to the driveway. The parking improved on those days. But one day he was gone, and when he returned, a strange car was parked right in his own driveway. Guess what happened?

    There are far too many Americans who are stupid, lazy, obnoxious, and think that they’re the only ones who matter. They will do things to other people that, if the situation were reversed, would put them into a screaming temper tantrum.

    • There is no way to call a tow company from the parking lot. There is no phone service and we don’t have walkie talkies that work for more than a mile in the mountains. If we were going to call a tow company, either my co-worker or I would have to drive our own personal vehicle (neither of us has a company vehicle) between eight and ten mountain miles to the nearest payphone.

      Even if we could call a tow truck from the parking lot, the nearest tow company is about 40 miles away. It would take an hour or more to drive those 40 mountain miles to the parking lot. I don’t think a tow company would drive an hour to tow a car that might be gone when it arrives.

      Life is different in the mountains.

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