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Use the Valet Parking – We’ll Get it Validated, She Said

     It’s not often you see two empty parking spaces in the middle of downtown at lunchtime on a weekday. Never within a half-block of where you’re going. But there they were, two two-hour metered spaces within easy reach of the restaurant where I’d soon be meeting my sister.

     But what th’ heck – I was past the spaces now, and my sister had said to use the valet parking. “We’ll get our stubs validated inside, so it won’t cost anything,” she told me. Remember that.

     Driving up to the valet stand, the first thing I saw was the sign with the parking rates. First hour - Seven dollars. Each additional hour – Three dollars.  That’s a heck of a lot more than those metered spaces, I’m thinking. But my sister said it would all be validated, so it wouldn’t cost anything. Remember that.

     I handed my keys to the valet, slipped the stub in my pocket, and went in search of the restaurant buried somewhere within this skyscraper of a building. No signs directed me. The only signs were Marriott Suites signs. But this was the right building – at Seventh and B.  

     The restaurant wasn’t buried. It was on the top floor. The elevator took me to the twelfth floor and dumped me out. Right in front of the hotel check-in counter. No restaurant signs here. No signs of a restaurant here. I asked the concierge where the restaurant was and he pointed off toward the left. Said to take that elevator to the thirty-fourth floor.

     Up on the thirty-fourth floor, my sister and I had a wonderful lunch. We had an amazing view of the fog that covered the new ballpark far below and our meals were delicious and apparently they were free, because there were no prices on the menu. My sister generously gave the waiter her autograph when we finished and it was all quite classy and everyone took very good care of us, until we asked to have our parking stubs validated.

     The hostess said yes to my sister and no to me. My sister’s stub was lavender. Mine was white. In-valid. For hotel parking - not for restaurant parking. Two parking garages; two separate entrances; one building.

     Now suddenly I’m thinking ten dollars plus tip. That’s a lot more than a few quarters for one of those metered spaces I passed up. My devious mind sprang into action.  I’d buy something at the hotel. Surely the hotel would validate its customers’ valet parking.

     So that’s why my sister and I were sitting at the hotel bar at the Marriott Suites with a Coke and a glass of water at two-thirty last Wednesday afternoon. I hurriedly sipped my Coke and paid two dollars, plus a generous tip to the bartender - in consideration of the ten dollar validation he was going to give me.

     But didn’t. “I can only validate four dollars of this,” he said. Oh well. I was still a dollar ahead.  Or nine dollars behind…

     When I handed my not completely validated ticket to the valet, he calculated for five minutes and then said I owed five dollars. Which was one dollar better than I expected, so I gave him the five dollars - plus tip - and drove off, quite satisfied.

     Because it only cost me nine dollars for valet parking and I had a classy lunch with my sister on the thirty-fourth floor of a fog-enshrouded building plus I had a delicious Coke I didn’t want and the fog cleared before we left and I got to see the ballpark after all, but next time I’m gonna grab that metered space a half-block from the building because valet parking isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. At least, it isn’t always validated. Remember that.

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