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The Parking Garage
Another day in a parking garage
He arrived at the airport two hours before his flight as the airline had recommended. Since his company was footing the bill, he decided to drive to the airport rather than take local ground transportation. With a one-day turnaround, parking in the garage made more sense.
Until it didn’t.
Terminal A had five levels of parking, the fifth being the roof. All cars sat on the roof uncovered and unprotected in the blazing sun. There was no way Dakota was going to subject his car to that. Plus, the possibility of a hail storm was very real this time of year.
The rest of the garage had sensors hanging above each parking spot to let drivers know the availability of empty spaces so they could avoid unnecessary passes down each row. At the end of each row hung a digital tally of empty spaces in that row.
The concept was great if the sensors were well maintained and accurate. As Dakota drove up and down each row that the sign displayed empty spaces, he could tell none of the tally signage worked properly. Rows that noted 10 or 22 or 19 empty spaces were completely filled. The number of empty spaces listed on the signage was unreliable.
Then he saw two reasons for the disconnect: the sensors had burned out or were covered with dust, thereby giving false readings.
After being denied a single space on the fourth floor, he drove down a level.
“Man, I could’ve been at the gate by now if I had taken an Uber,” Dakota thought. “Plus all this gas I’m burning up. What a waste!”
And then! There it was, the only open space on the third level.
Dakota saw it as did another driver coming the opposite way. They were equidistant to the space, so no one could call ‘dibs!” on the space just yet. The other guy flashed his headlights twice at Dakota. Dakota returned the headlight flash three times.
Of course, no one really knows what flashing headlights means, or it could mean a number of things. Did it mean ‘dibs’ or ‘you take it’ or something entirely different?
The pickup driver flashed once more as they both closed in on the empty spot.
An SUV backed out in front of the pickup, and its driver slammed on his brakes when he saw the pickup in his mirror. Dakota backed into the empty spot while the pickup waited for the SUV to leave.
Dakota got his luggage out and walked past the pickup on the way to the terminal.
“Think we should complain about the faulty sensors?” Dakota asked, pointing to the light overhead, now green even though the pickup occupied the spot.
“Naa. Who would we complain to and would they even listen if we did?”
“Probably not. Have a great flight,” said Dakota.
“You too. By the way, were you flashing your lights for me to go or that you wanted to go?”
“To be honest, I don’t know,” Dakota said. “I think I wanted you to take the spot.”
“Ironic, huh? That’s exactly why I flashed my headlights. Anyways, no harm no foul and off to our flights we go.”