Lost in The Parking Lot

I can’t be the only one who misplaces her car in the mall parking lot.

But I know people who never have to think twice about where they left their car. They walk straight into the store and straight out again without a moment’s uncertainty.

I have to think a lot more than twice, and do some other stuff as well. I have learned to take deep breaths and slowly walk up and down the rows in the approximate area where I foolishly took leave of my only means of transportation. I say a brief prayer to St. Anthony, the Patron of Lost Things (I’m not exaggerating; you could look it up.)

Throughout it all, I have visions of roaming through the lot in the hot sun or bitter cold (depending on the weather) while the Lean Cuisines in my shopping bag defrost slowly or rapidly (depending on the weather).

 Do they want to see their customers roaming through the parking lots like nomads through the desert?

Of course, I always do find my car (with St. Anthony’s help, I’m sure.) But the search is really not fun, so I finally thought up some slightly, er, eccentric ways to keep track of my vehicle. I count how many vehicles are between me and the beginning of the mall and write that down in a tiny notebook I keep just for that purpose. I carry a big stuffed dog in my car at all times and put it on my dashboard before I leave so I can identify my car from a distance. Though why I should have a problem identifying it, I don’t know – there are only 1,604 other tan Civics in the lot.

large stuffed dog

Then one day I went to a big-box store – I’m not identifying it other than to say it’s the one that everyone says they hate – and I saw….signs. Yes, signs! The first one said “Row 1.” The second one said “Row 2.” And you may find this hard to believe, but the third one said “Row 3.”

All you have to do is remember what row you’re parked in (I can do that!) and you’ll know where your car is. Brilliant and simple, like all the best ideas.

So how come other stores don’t do the same?  Has this store patented the idea of numbering the parking rows? Have other stores just not wanted to be copycats? Do these other stores enjoy the spectacle of customers wandering through their lots like nomads through the desert? Somebody needs to do a story on this.

In the meantime, I’ve become a steady customer of the big-box store with the numbered rows. Unfortunately, I still have to go to some other stores as well, so I haven’t gotten rid of my tiny notebook or giant stuffed dog. And in case you were wondering, St. Anthony is still with me, though he’s getting fewer annoying messages these days.

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