Friday, October 13, 2006

Let us out! Let us out!!!

So I went to a Whole Foods store downtown at lunch yesterday.

Well, wait....that's kinda misleading. I ACTUALLY ran an errand to the downtown Powell's Books at lunch. But PARKED in a parking lot beneath the Whole Foods store which was reserved for Whole Foods customers. I mean, Powell's also has a parking structure but it is truly a Death Trap. Or at least a Dented Car Trap. (trust me on this ... even a Powell's employee I was chatting with then was saying he only risked parking in it once ... and has now resorted to riding his bike to work.)

And just so y'all know, I TRIED for street parking but HELLO .... downtown street parking at noon? ... what are the chances?? And I know, I know, I know ..... bad to be parking somewhere without being a customer. So let it be known that on the way back THROUGH the Whole Foods store, I did purchase something. Because I DID need a box of Ginger Snaps. (Or I wanted my parking ticket validated. Whatever. (Semantics, I say! ;)))

The bottom line is .... around 12:35pm I and my car found ourselves waiting in line to pay the attendant to exit the Whole Foods underground parking structure.

Here's the scene:

There are three parking gates (
you know what I'm talking about, with the arm blocking the path keeping cars from entering or exiting). The parking gate on the far left is for cars entering the structure and the two other ones are for cars leaving. I was in the right-most lane which, unbeknownst to me...having never parked there before, was the outgoing lane for non-validated parking tickets only. The center lane (ie. the lane to my left) was for everyone who had their tickets validated (oops). But I had a car behind me by the time I saw the sign and was stuck. Ah well.

So anyway, I'm sitting behind one car who is paying with Tollmaster Lady #1. They are taking FOREVER. Tollmaster Lady #1 is looking kinda flustered and has a flurry of button pushing activity going on. She has a Tollmaster Lady #2 crammed in the booth with her who is also looking concerned as TL#1 continues with the flustering (hey, I can make up words if I want to*! It is MY blog!)

So I look over at the other outgoing lane to see if that lane is moving faster. But they've got about FIVE cars lined up in that lane and the driver of the first car is actually out of her car trying to get her ticket to work in that lane's automated ticket reader (no Tollmasters manning that booth). A driver from one of the cars behind her comes up to her and suggests that perhaps she ask for assistance from one of the two TollMasters crammed into Booth #1.

So she does. Only to have TL #2 acknowledge her with a nod of her head but stay firmly planted in the booth overlooking the still flustered, button-pushing and sometimes phone calling TL#1.

I look further to the left and see that there is now quite the line of cars trying to get INTO the structure as well. They are stacked all the way up the drive to get in ... no-one moving AT ALL. And no Tollmasters manning that booth either.

Up beside me someone else walks and says to the Forehead Wrinkled in Angst Tollmasters that really they need to get the problem resolved ... and fast! (I'm sure that was very helpful for them btw, Angry Driver #1)

By now there are, of course, a number of cars behind me, more cars in the other exit lane and cars giving up and turning around to get out of the line attempting to enter the structure.

After much waiting, and a palpable impatience filling the parking structure air, TL#1 takes some keys, walks over to the parking gate keeping the car in front of me trapped, and lifts the gate so that the car in front of me can leave.

"Whoo hooo!", I think. They got smart and are just going to let us out, then deal with the problem. Ya know, for the sake of some decent customer service**!

I think wrong.

As I pull up with much excitement at getting the hell out of this underground hellhole, the gate lowers (argh!!!), trapping me at the booth. I look over and TL#1 says "I'm so sorry about the wait" and reaches for my ticket. I'm thinking, "okay, well great, they must have got it fixed but just had a problem with that guy's ticket which is why they had to let him out manually!".

Wrong-o again.

I knew my "They Got It Fixed" theory was WAY off base as soon as TL#1 inserted my ticket into the booth's ticket reader amid the mumblings of "please god, let it work THIS time ... please god, let it work THIS time". (I kid you not)

Never-ever a good sign, right?!

And so I patiently waited. And after much mechanical ponderings, the ticket machine decided to remain unworking. STILL.

So, as TL#2 picked up the phone to again contact someone who so far has been completely unhelpful, TL#1 continued to jam my ticket into the Defunct Ticket Machine. Knowing this would in all probability NOT SOLVE THE COMPUTER'S PROBLEM, I suggested to TL#1 that perhaps she could just let everyone out? (again, I'm thinking like someone who cares about decent customer support. Call me crazy!)

With a quizzical look and continued jabbings of my ticket into the ticket machine as my unspoken negatory answer from TL#1, I figured "SCREW THE MASSES!!! ... JUST SAVE YOURSELF, KAT ... JUST SAVE YOURSELF!!!!".

So I leaned over again and suggested that perhaps she could just let ME out ... since the machine wasn't working and all and since I didn't owe any money.

But TL#1 looks at my ticket and says "uh-uh says 12:07"



So I venture to reply .... "but it's validated."

So with a harried glance at the underside of my ticket, an irritated (???) TL#1 caved and grabbed up her keys! Whoo hoooo!

I was free! I was free!!!

Which may or may not be true for the rest of the schmucks who were trapped there. I wonder how long they had to wait?

*oops! That's an actual word. I just checked. Who KNEW?! Moving on! :)
**Because really, did the Tollmasters not realize that keeping all those people trapped there was going to cost more money in returned shopping business losses then they would save by making them pay to get out?? Especially being that most of those folks owed NOTHING! And the ones that did, at a mere rate of $1.25 per hour, owed maybe (AT MOST) $5 EACH??". But that's just logic talking. Crazy me! What was I thinking??

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