Park It

I am always astounded by the number of people who will effectively boycott a business based on whether or not it has a parking lot.  Reading Steve's post about the reopening of the Townsend Park Bakery (hoooooRAY!) reminded me of this.

Even though I don't have a car right now I do vaguely remember what it was like to own and operate one and parking was never an issue for me.  If a restaurant or store had no parking lot I would find a nearby metered spot or, *gasp* a spot that wasn't nearby and walk to my destination.  This is still something that the majority of the citizens of Earth are capable of, right?  Excluding, of course, people with disabilities, most of us could presumably walk just about anywhere we needed to.  I mean, if I really wanted to, I could walk to Colonie Center from my house between Dove and Lark streets.  Walking enthusiasts routinely hike the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia without whining.  So why is it such a big deal to walk a few blocks from where you parked on Washington to the Townsend Park Bakery?  I'm just not buying it.

Now, I totally get why someone would not want to fight for parking near their home.   That's not the issue, here.  No one wants to have to circle their neighborhood for a half an hour looking for a spot just so they can get to their front door.  This is one of the many reasons why I don't currently own a car, as Center Square is notoriously challenging to its residents.  It's a daily struggle and one that I wouldn't want to undertake.

The difference between that situation and a business not offering parking is that you probably aren't going to be swinging over to Townsend Park every day if you don't live in the area.  For a once-in-a-while trip, yes, it may be borderline inconvenient; you might not be able to park directly outside of the bakery but if you can't find a spot within a reasonable walking distance (let's say, two blocks, because if you have kids you probably don't want to make them shlep any farther than that) then I will buy that loaf of bread for you and throw in a hearty apology, complete with an, "I'm sorry," dance.  Something tells me I won't be polishing up my tap shoes any time soon.

And another thing.  I know that being a driver gives you the false impression that driving is the most pleasant and efficient way to travel.  I assure you that this is not the case.  So once you find a spot, park it and leave it.  There are lots of other fun things to do and see on foot, especially in Center Square.  Oh, I know, I know.  You want to hurry home so you can find parking.  Nevermind.


Roz said…
Leigh, I will come clean on something that has been bothering me for a while. I'm one of those of whom you write. Take, for example, OTE meet-ups that are downtown. It's not that I mind walking. It's my main form of exercise and I have lost weight this way. I'm a little intimidated walking around downtown Albany at night because there are some panhandlers that won't take no for an answer. But that's not the main reason.

I'm so embarrassed to admit this.

I can't parallel park for shit.

I've only parallel parked once, successfully, without help, since I took my road test 32 years ago. I've tried since then, but even with help I just can't do it! It's so bad that I avoid downtown Albany at night altogether unless I'm sure there's parking, or unless S-Man will go with me and drive. S-Man can back a car through the eye of a needle and park a car in a space the size of a postage stamp. I miss out on a lot, I know.

It might be a spatial-relationship/depth perception issue.
Leigh Cummings said…
Hahaha! Oh, Roz! I never knew...

See, that's a valid (and hilarious) reason. Hey, it seems like pretty soon lots of cars will have that automatic parallel parking thingy and a rear view camera so you'll be able to just sit back and relax! :)
Roz said…
I thought about "borrowing" some friends' cars and having them park on a side street around here and retraining myself, but geez, how humiliating would that be? And what if I hit one of my friends' cars?
Kristi said…
For me, it may be partial laziness. Ex: I love Debbie's Kitchen, but can not make it from work, to her shop and back in a "reasonable" lunch time if I need to park on State and walk over -- on the middle of the weekday that's often what I find. So, more often than not, it's about time. I live on a (too rigid, I know) schedule and cut everything so close. No time to "plan" for parking!
Jack said…
"Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time."
Rich said…
My only parking problem is the home parking issue. It has ruined my life. I always have to leave fun situations to get home in time to park somehwere non-dangerous or semi close to my actual house. Otherwise, I don't mind going anywhere, and I love walking. When I park, I usually leave my car and walk just about anywhere.

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