Prom Night, May Nineteen-Seventy-Mphmphnsk. A double date with my best buddy and his girlfriend. I went to his prom with one of his classmates instead of going to the prom at my own high school. I was closer to the friends that I had made at work than I ever was with the people in my own school and the four of us had a great time planning the evening. I borrowed my mother's car, a 1976 black Chrysler Cordoba with leather interior and all the bells and whistles of the time. The four of us drove into downtown Chicago for dinner before the dance … the ladies in floor-length formal gowns with wrist corsages, my buddy and I in pastel tuxedos with ruffled shirts. We arrived at the upscale Pump Room and were quickly greeted by a valet attendant who instructed us to leave the keys in the car as he handed me a claim check.
We left the car, partially blocking a busy downtown street, with the key in the ignition and hurried our dates to the door. Seconds later, the valet attendant stopped me to ask if I had a second set of keys … which I did not. Out of force of habit, and mindful that borrowing my mother's car was a special treat and a big responsibility, I had locked the doors of the car, with the motor running and the back end blocking an entire lane of traffic. I was completely embarrassed. The attendant suggested that I leave the problem to him and enjoy my meal. We laughed it off and enjoyed the rest of our evening.
To this day, I avoid valet parking at all costs. Not because of that one incident but because my legs are, clearly, significantly shorter in length than those of the average valet attendant. Whenever someone else drives my car, they have to move the seat back and it takes me weeks to readjust it so that it suits me comfortably once again. Unfortunately, there are venues, usually restaurants and hotels, where valet parking is deemed mandatory. I do not appreciate this practice.
If there is a parking lot available for the valet attendant to place my car during my stay, I would like to be able to park it there myself! I will, begrudgingly, tip the attendant if he will simply allow me to park my own car. I don't mind a long walk back to the restaurant if that's what is required of me to ensure that my ride is comfortable when I leave. On the other hand, if an attendant drives my car to a slot that's only twenty feet away instead of letting me do it myself, I can feel my blood boil. It's safe to say that I make every effort to avoid these places, but it's not always possible.
Maybe those are the times I should take a cab.
Does anyone else think "mandatory valet parking" is a nuisance?
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