I live roughly three-quarters of a mile from one of RTD’s (Denver area’s Rapid Transit providers) light rail stations. I take the train into work and get dropped off at Union Station in LoDo Denver. It takes a little bit longer than driving, but I don’t have to worry about traffic. It’s a terrific convenience and saves money, not to mention wear and tear on my car and its main driver. When the roads are clear, I ride my bike to the station, since it’s rather senseless to drive my car that short distance. This has been my routine for roughly the last six months.
My routine has changed a little bit the past couple of weeks and for various reasons, I have been driving into work.
I have done this before. Initially I was using a parking lot close to the office. Denver is a fairly large city, so parking isn’t free. In the case of the lot I was using the price was $8 (and I don’t want to hear from people in Boston and New York about “only $8 — must be nice”, it’s still a lot of money to let my car sit, especially when my car payment is less than $12 a day).
Anyway, I said “was” because one day the automated machine started charging $10 despite the fact that the sign still reported an $8 fee to park. I wasn’t about to call and complain over $2, but I did inwardly grumble each time I parked there. Again, this is the past tense. I used to park there.
The dentist I go to is in the same building as my office (convenient!) and several of the employees there mentioned that they park at The Pepsi Center and it’s only $5 a day. The only catch is that you sometimes have to be out of the lot by 5:30pm when “there’s an event”, presumably a concert or sporting event. No worries here. I’m usually our of work by 4:30pm or 5:00pm at the latest. A nice bonus is that this parking lot is an easier walk to the office than the old one, and much easier to get out of when it’s time to go home.
The first day I parked there I saw the “cash or checks only” sign. Checks! I don’t carry those or much use them any more, but I did have cash. Unfortunately, the only cash I had was a $100 bill. It’s weird how I only seem to have a single $100 bill or three $1 and nothing in between. The cashier was very friendly and didn’t put up the usual grumble that cashiers tend to do when taking a large bill for a small purchase. She simply made change and gave me the dashboard ticket.
The next time I went, the cashier was a very happy and enthusiastic young man named Walterriley. Yep! He had two names in one. And he was absolutely head over heels in love with The Lord and wanted Everyone to Know about it. We had a nice conversation about religion and how he didn’t want to change mine, but if I was interested, here’s the card of his church and he’d love to have me as his guest. Sometimes those of Very Strong Faith can lean toward obnoxious, but Walterriley was not. He had discovered something so wonderful that he wanted everyone to know about it.
I am never offended by this. Anyone who believes strongly enough in his faith to share it that kindly and genuinely is entitled to a moment of my time. I was getting somewhat alarmed by the number of cars piling up behind me, but that was more in Walterriley’s hands than mine. And nobody was honking. I eventually was able to get on my way, all that much happier for the experience. I won’t be going to Walterriley’s church any time soon, but it’s great to see a young person involved in something positive, willing to share it.
After meeting Walterriley, it was about two weeks before I drove in again. This time a nice lady greeted me and proclaimed, “I’ve never seen this car before!”. I asked, “You mean a Ford Flex, or this particular silver one?” She laughed and said, “Just this one.” I guess that was her way of saying, “Welcome to the parking lot. Haven’t seen you before, but we’re glad you’re here.”
Most of the time parking is just something you do. Interaction with the cashier is minimal: not necessarily unpleasant, but also not necessarily pleasant. At the Pepsi Center parking, it’s different. It’s been pleasant every time I’ve gone there.
It’s one of those small things that makes your day a little bit better and I’m glad for it.