No Parking, Except Sometimes

I finally got around to moving my office down to the first floor of our main chapel this summer. While I hated to leave my cozy enclave of over fifteen years, the addition of an I.T. manager to our staff necessitated another round of “Musical Offices” and I could clearly see the handwriting on the wall.

NO PARKING

To be honest, I LOVE my new office digs! The new room is bigger and has a much larger desk already in place. There’s a restroom right down the hallway, very convenient after downing my morning ritual of a Starbucks Vente’ decaf. I’m away from the hustle-bustle of our dispatch area, and conversations are a bit more private and easier to have. I can (and already have) actually meet families in my new office and make funeral arrangements in there, something I could never do before. And whereas my old office had one window that faced a brick wall, my new area has TWO windows that give me a great view to the west and south.

Herein lies the rub of having such wonderful views: I can see our parking lot perfectly out of my west-facing window. That may not seem like much of a “rub”, but it has enabled me to view all of the scofflaws that ignore our “no parking” signs and zip into our firm’s parking lot for non-funeral business. This has always been a problem for us, but I guess since I rarely saw the infractions it didn’t seem to be worth thinking about. Now though, when out of the corner of my eye I see a car turn off of Church Avenue into our lot, I eyeball the vehicle until I see where its occupants are going. If they don’t come thru our front door, some wannabe policeman inside me causes me to confront the offending party and inquire as to where they are going and why they parked on our lot. The ones who can’t outrun me usually admit they are going to the courthouse, which is right across from our facility. “We won’t be long” is their normal battle cry, followed closely by the second most utilized phrase: “Mr. Oakey told me that I could park here anytime I want to.” Since there have been over a dozen “Mr. Oakeys” working here (and most of them are no longer with us), I have a hard time weeding out the truth tellers from the non-truth tellers on this one. I had a lady just two weeks ago tell me that MINOR Oakey told her she could park here anytime; I hadn’t the heart to tell her that Minor died back in the 1990’s!

Many times, we have no visitations or funerals and it is actually ok for folks to use our lot. The problem here is when we DO have services and need every parking space we can find, the ones who have been parking on the lot during slack times begin to think they have “squatter’s rights”. “Well, I’ve been parking here all week and no one has said anything to me. Why are you picking on me now?” is one I’ve heard a lot lately. “You buried my mother last year and I’ve got jury duty this month” is another remark that I had a hard time figuring out a comeback for. Heck, a few years ago we had a guy who had to serve time in jail (also across the street) park his car in our lot and then walk into the jailhouse to begin serving his sentence!

On Sundays, we allow all of the many surrounding churches to use our lot, and if anyone actually ASKS if they can park there during the week, we almost always reply in the affirmative. The ones who don’t ask are usually the ones dumping their cigarette butts on our lot, tossing fast food wrappers and cups out of their car windows, or (and I swear this is true) changing baby diapers inside the car and then leaving the dirty disposable diaper on our parking lot. Yeah, our cleaning staff here could tell some pretty good stories about other unmentionable items they have had the privilege of removing from the pavement.

Our maintenance man just put some “towing enforced” signs alongside the “Oakey’s parking only” signs which have been up for years. So why do I have this feeling in the pit of my stomach that they will do no good at all?

Hey, is it too late to get my old office back?