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.