True story: My husband stopped me with a “Hey,” last night as I was walking out the door to meet a few friends at the movies. “Don’t park in that garage by the theater,” he said. “It’s creepy.”
The movie theater is part of a shopping mall that underwent a major facelift last year. It’s gorgeous—the formerly garish food court was draped in plush fabrics and matte grey finishes and soft lighting, hallways were outfitted with cushy couches and free Wi-Fi, and all the signage was updated in a branded (but not matchy-matchy) style that works beautifully.
Outside is a three-story parking garage that tries very hard to mimic the quiet softness of the new food court. But the gentle lighting and grey walls that are serene in the eating area have a different effect when I’m trying to park: I can’t see. Cars are parked over faint lines and in access aisles, and people stop in the middle of travel lanes to squint at what may or may not be a space. It’s a bit like driving through fog.
Granted, I’m not as young as what I’m sure was the target audience for the mall renovation, but if I can’t discern a parking space from a loading zone without getting out of my vehicle for a very close look, something’s not working.
Five years ago, I didn’t know what a parking professional was. Driving through this garage now, I find myself shaking my head and wondering why one wasn’t consulted, what they’re going to do about those inadvertently blocked access lanes, and how long it’ll be before someone gets hit or is the victim of a crime in the darkness.
A friend who recently drove me through the newly spiffed-up structure was equally unnerved by the garage, though she couldn’t quite put her fingers on what was wrong besides, “This is weird.” And a surface lot at the far end of the property that was always my double-top-secret parking savior during busy holiday seasons is suddenly very popular, even on a random Saturday.
I wonder when the mall owners will realize why people aren’t using the big garage and call in a parking professional to make it better. I’ll look forward to trying it again when it’s lighter, brighter, and easier to navigate. Until then, I’ll be one of the drivers parking on the outskirts of the property, happily walking farther to the doors, and thinking to myself that it’s true: Parking Matters®.