I had the good fortune to play parking lot attendant for one of our local festivals this past weekend. Seemed simple enough. Keep track of the number of cars leaving, only let in the same number of cars. Here’s what I learned.

People don’t understand hand signals.

  • Even when I was clearly waving them on (both hands pointing for them to continue driving), a few just decided to come on into the lot.
  • Although two hands up usually means STOP, to some people it meant keep rolling forward until your bumper rests against the attendant’s legs.

People don’t know how to use their turn signals.

  • It was rare for someone to signal their intention to turn into the lot. Most of the time it was a game of standing in the way of the lot entrance until they either stopped (usually in the street) or turned on their signal. If they did the former, I would approach their window and give them appropriate instructions. If they did the latter, I would attempt to signal to either move on or to enter the lot (see point 1).

People don’t know how to roll down their windows.

  • Once they figured out I wanted to talk to them, half of them had to LOOK at the controls to figure out how to roll down the window. The funniest ones were the ones that had to look for the window crank (remember those?).

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People can’t comprehend why their usually open lot would become a controlled-access lot.

  • You know, there is a festival going on. The one that you have been hearing about for weeks? Yeah, it’s today. No, you can’t park here. There aren’t any empty spaces. It doesn’t matter that you are volunteering. There are no empty spaces. No, you can’t just run in and grab something “real quick”. THERE ISN’T A PLACE TO PARK YOUR CAR!

People have no idea how to turn.

  • I was standing on what would be the yellow line between the two lanes of the parking lot entrance. I had to signal to/move out of the way of nearly every driver that pulled into the lot to keep from getting run over. It seems that very few drivers knew that their steering wheel turned more than 90° in either direction and it took vigorous signalling to get them to keep rotating the wheel so they wouldn’t run me down. WHY CAN”T YOU TURN!?! At least the ones I made fun of - remember, they had to roll their window down to talk to me - took it well.

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Fortunately, my son was right there with me the whole time. He learned a lot about driving without getting behind the wheel.