by admin | October 7, 2011 6:07 pm
I lost my car in the UT parking garage the other day. It was bound to happen. The fact that it took nearly four months for this unhappy event to occur counts as a minor victory. Perhaps I am making progress in the Not Losing One’s Car In A Parking Area department.
Still, it was annoying. I left at lunch to run errands, which meant I sacrificed my choice spot on the second level, always on the left side on the first ramp. (Parking in this garage is first-come, first serve.) I get to work early and park in the same area every morning, which is why I haven’t lost my car to this point. Upon returning, lost in reverie and in a hurry to get back for an appointment, I zig-zagged up the ramps until I finally found a spot in the nosebleed section of the garage. When work ended, I trudged back to the garage and realized I had no idea where I had parked, except that it wasn’t on the second level. Third maybe? Fifth? Seventh?
I climbed to the fourth level and hit the alarm button on the key fob, a trick that a fellow auto-amnesiac taught me. Sure enough, my car started honking, but I couldn’t tell if the sound was coming from above or below. I went up a level and tried again. Nothing. I went down a level and hit the red button once more. No response. I returned to the third level and walked the entire area, looking in vain for the oval “HR” sticker I put on the back window to help me find my car. That stands for Hurricane Ridge, in the Olympic National Forest of Washington state — one of the prettiest places on the planet. I suspect most people who see it think I work in human resources.
Fifteen minutes later I found my car on the fourth level. I have no idea why the car alarm would not go off when I was actually on that level, but it did when I was below. I was just glad it only took 15 minutes. My personal record is two hours, when I parked on a side street and walked to the football stadium to meet my daughters. After the game, in darkness I searched for my car down one street after another. I was about to take a cab back to the hotel and wait for sunrise to begin the search anew, when magically my vehicle appeared on a street I was fairly certain I had searched a half-dozen times already.
My inability to remember where I park appears to be both inherent and inherited. My dad was a dreamy, absent-minded guy who would often forget why my mom had sent him to the store. Bread? Milk? Cigarettes? What? Back then, in the Paleolitic era of my youth — before cell phones, GPS or car alarms were common — there weren’t any Big Box stores either, so he could usually find the car in a small lot. I have learned to park in the same general area in the sea of asphalt that fronts most stores I frequent, whether it’s the grocery store or a home-improvement establishment. Facing the store, I always park to the far right, as close to a shopping cart-return bin as possible.
A few Christmas seasons ago, I lost my car in the parking garage of the Austin Convention Center after going to the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. Again, I could make the car alarm go off, but it took 45 minutes to pinpoint the sound. Several years ago, I parked at the Houston airport in an outdoor lot because it was cheaper. Aware of my handicap, I wrote down the location. Upon returning, my car was not where I had so diligently recorded the location. Finally, in utter bewilderment, I asked the attendant at the pay window for help. She laughed and said several rows of cars had been moved while I was gone so the parking lot could be repaved. She pointed, and far in the distance I spotted my car. This did nothing to bolster my confidence. Even writing down the location didn’t help.
My wife and about-to-turn 14-year-old daughter are well aware of my malady and carefully note where we park when we go somewhere. When I’m parking solo, all bets are off here in the big city. I guess I’m just a country boy at heart.
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