I had my car valet parked today. An entirely new and uncomfortable experience for me. Not so much because of certain movies I've seen, but more because I don't generally like the idea of letting some punk who I've only seen for like a minute jump in my car and drive it away. I'm steadily becoming more savvy about parking around here. Thanks to hard lessons learned, as well as the joys of driving twenty minutes to get somewhere and then spending half an hour driving around looking for a place to park, I've developed certain strategies related to parking. For instance, today. I wanted to go to The Container Store. To pick up containers to store things. And this store, as my partner might be apt to describe it, is "Capricorn Land," wherein all us who love to be organized and have nifty things to make us organized, will happily spend an entire week in the store. Camping out, even, sleeping bags and all.1

After checking for a location near me, I settled on one that was second closest (by only like six miles, so technically that doesn't even count). The driving force behind the decision was that one was in an area I've already been. Plus, the second one was in Pasadena. Hello! Here's where the savviness kicked in: I called the store and asked where parking was available. There's no such thing as normal parking lots around here, and though I don't want to, I've just had to accept the fact that free parking out here is a fucking oxymoron.

But joy of joys! The Container Score, or at least this particular one, has valet parking. You show up and hand over your key and they park your car, and as long as you spend some money at the store, parking is pretty cheap.

Upon my arrival, I was able to find the special valet dude right outside the store. I pulled over into the fire lane (the only available place to pull over), then got out in the hopes that I could quickly see how the whole valet thing worked.

Phil: This is valet for The Container Store, right? Valet Guy: Yes, yes it is. Phil: Okay, so how does this work? Valet Guy: Give me your keys and I'll park your car for you. Phil: Okay sweet.

I left the guy only the ignition key, and then the guy just went to hang the key in the little bin. I protested that my car was still illegally parked, and this was his response: "You're not allowed to park there." Oh, really? I had no idea. Then: "You leave your car on the street and we validate, okay?"

So I snatched my key back from the douche bag of a valet guy, jumped back in the car and drove around the block. And found an open space at a meter. I parked and walked back, then, in the hopes that a renewed interaction would miraculously cure our previous communication folly, tried asking again about the clearly fucked up parking situation.

Phil: Okay, so I'm at a meter, but I didn't pay because you said you validate. I'm cool now, right? Valet Guy: Did you put money in the meter? Phil: You said you validate. Hence, I don't need to put in money. [Note: I was thinking maybe they had a sticker or something to put on my dash to show I was shopping away. Maybe?] Valet Guy: No, in meter, you need to pay coins. We don't validate. Phil: First you say 'valet', then 'validate', then 'valet' again. Which is it?

Back to the car it was, then. And pulling up once again into the fire lane. But this time the guy took it and parked it properly. But shit! Did it really have to be that complicated? It STILL took me half an hour to actually get the parking issue squared away. It's madness. But I made a day of it, partly to make sure I got my money's worth. and also because I was short fifty cents to pay for the damn valet service (they only deal in cash). So I had to go in search of a way to obtain it.2 And gaggle along the way at all the fancy schmancy that is Pasadena. Big name clothing stores, a Bentley car dealership, et cetera.

1I met the manager of the store because I stopped her to ask for help, and after talking, she wound up telling me she really wanted to hire me. What are the odds? 2I succeeded and got the cash. Did I tip the bitch valet guy? Hell no.