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Tag Archives: conversations with strangers

25 // The Parking Attendant

This past weekend, I’ve had to volunteer at the Home & Garden Show in downtown Pittsburgh for work. Part of the joy that is the home show means you need to find parking. Options are sometimes limited because the convention center parking garage fills up fast (and is ridiculously expensive).

Yesterday, for my first shift, I had it in my head that I’d be able to park in that garage easily since I’d managed to do it last year. I was very mistaken, so I had to drive in a big circle and I decided to loop around and park at a $6 outdoor lot I had passed on my way in the first time. I’ve parked in this lot before for theater events and things. It’s pretty convenient because it’s cheap, it’s fairly safe and I could walk about 2 blocks to get to the show.

There was a parking lot attendant who came by my car when I pulled in there that first time. I don’t know his name or his age (he looked young), and our first meeting didn’t really stick out in my memory. I parked. I paid him. I walked away, off to go work my shift.

When I returned to my car, he decided to stop me before I was leaving to make sure I had actually paid my ticket. He told me he hadn’t seen the ticket on my dash, and hoped I wasn’t one of those sneaky people who tried to just park for free and get away with it. I assured him I wasn’t the type, showed him the ticket, and I was off on my merry way.

I had to work another shift today, and I decided to pick that same lot. Lo and behold, there was the parking attendant, the same guy I’d dealt with from yesterday. He actually remembered me, which I thought was interesting. We chatted a little bit and then he let me pay a dollar less than I was supposed to for parking, so that made me feel special for five minutes. At the end of my shift, I walked back to my car and the attendant came up to me saying, “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.” I told him that I wouldn’t be there again, that I was only a temporary fixture in this lot strictly for the Home Show.

We talked a little bit more, about nothing really, and then I left and he told me to drive safely. I don’t know why this exchange over the last two days made me happy, but it did. It was nice speaking to a perfect stranger even if it was only for a few snippets of moments in my otherwise busy last few days.

When I park in that lot again, because I know that I will for something, I almost hope he’ll be there again. For some reason.