Approaching the West Side Highway exit for 42nd Street, I felt the energy of New York City, its pulsing beat merging with the honking horns and cacophony of people thronging the sidewalks. I was thrilled to be bringing my daughter into the city for her first Broadway show.
Traffic was particularly heavy as I drove up Eighth Avenue cruising for a parking garage. This was taking longer than I’d thought. It was almost quarter of two, showtime.
I spotted an outdoor lot midway between 47th and 48th Streets, a short walk to our destination. I joined the queue, fourth car from the front. Not too bad. Except that the particular proprietor here was taking his sweet time with his current customer. Didn’t he see the line of cars waiting for his attention?
And there’s this guy, dilly-dallying away, joking with the patron at his make-shift office as he handed her the ticket for her parked car. He cordially waved good-bye to her then moseyed up to car #2 where he leaned in, chatted up that driver, big smile on his face.
Does this man not care about making a profit? What about customer service? Can’t he see me there? Not even an acknowledgment, you know, “I’ll be with you in a minute.” He gave no notice of me sitting behind the wheel of my encumbrance—the obstacle between us and the orchestra’s overture.
Again, he took his bloody time helping the woman two cars ahead of me. I could feel my pulse quickening, my jaw tightening and my patience level shrinking.
“What’s taking so long, Mommy?” Laura asked from the back seat. “This guy doesn’t know how to run a business,” I retorted testily.
It was now 1:52pm and my stomach was in my throat. I detest being late. Especially when any decent place would have had two attendants at least. I needed to give this moron some business advice.
Finally, at 1:55pm, it was my turn. “Jeez, Mister,” I said, trying to suppress my rage. “Could you pick up the pace?”
“Ma’am,” he replied, “Don’t let your lack of planning become my emergency.” With that he took my keys, gave me my ticket, then moved to car #5. From his response it was clear that he’d attended a better self-help school than I.
I seethed over his remark through all of Act 1. “Mommy, what did he mean by that?” Laura questioned me at intermission, seeing how shaken I was. “What he meant was that if we had left the house earlier we would have had plenty of time to get parked and get to the show.” I knew I shouldn’t have answered when the caller ID had read Mother.
“Was that right, Mommy?” asked the innocent voice of youth.
I pondered her question during Act 2 planning out the message I wanted to give Laura and the one my gut was giving me. That still small voice within was whispering, “He was right, Jane.” I slunk back to the parking lot, Laura in tow. “I want to apologize for my rude behavior earlier. You were right, and I’m grateful to you for telling me so.”
“God bless you,” he replied gently. I could actually feel that blessing as he opened my car door for me that afternoon.