The Ramp

With my job change, I am experiencing another new phenomenon: the multi-storied parking garage.

In WNY, colloquially, it is called a ramp.  When I first moved here, I really didn’t know what people were talking about when they used that term.

Now here I am, working in the heart of downtown, sharing common ground with a thousand of my fellow commuters.  In the words of the immortal Bart of Springfield, I’m livin’ it.  But, I ain’t lovin’ it.

Let’s start with basic parking garage etiquette.  There’s a poetic boy-girl-boy-girl flow into the structure.  There are multiple entrances.  Without a certain degree of mutual cooperation and choreography, the morning park would be utter chaos.

Queue-jumpers are scowled upon.  After all, what’s the point of jacking the next guy in line when you’ll have to deal with him a few minutes later when you attempt to exit your snazzy Hyundai Tucson?

Next, avoid attempting to park your Hummer in that sardine-esque spot on Level Two that everyone (including the Mini Coopers) are avoiding.  You’re just going to bring the quarter mile-long conga line that we call “going to work” to a screeching halt.  Then, when you have to back up after your über-humiliating botched parking job, you’ll draw the inevitable “large vehicle as compensation” comments from your angry fellow commuters.

No friendly, trustworthy Ferris Bueller attendant in my lot.

Another point, do not snake your fellow commuters by attempting to sneak up the back way, blowing through signs reading, “DO NOT ENTER.”  You’re sure to encounter someone else’s front bumper.  I love the look of surprise on the scufflaw’s mug when he has to jam on his brakes.  He’s all: “Oh, I didn’t know anybody would be going the right way in this part of the ramp.”  My response, “Well, aren’t YOU special?”

The future?

Finally, there’s a crystal clear distinction between the everyday parkers and the occasional downtown visitor.  The latter subject is terrified from the get-go over having to negotiate the mean streets of The Queen City.  She was probably up half the night, tossing and turning, entertaining Tim Burton nightmares over towed or stolen vehicles.  Then, once she arrives downtown, she is prone to a series of jerky, signal-less, impulse-driven turns into the first parking facility she encounters.

Finally, like a newbie on her first night in Rio, she can’t dance the samba.  She completely ignores the line of everyday people patiently waiting to wind their way up to Level Six or Seven.  For some reason, the visitor assumes, “There must be a space for me right here on this nice ground floor.”  As a result, she proceeds at a stately 4 mph, hunting and pecking.  My suggestion to this intrepid soul: This would have been a great time to try out our region’s fine mass transit system.

Okay.  Now you have successfully parked your four-wheel drive, Buffalo winter-surviving vehicle (hopefully within the yellow space lines).  It’s time to leave the ramp and go to your place of employment.  Don’t forget to remember your parking level.  A mere eight or nine hours later, you will return to the garage in search of your masterpiece of chrome, steel and plastic.  You just don’t want to be that guy wandering from level to level, praying to the Almighty like Moses in the desert for a glimpse of your brown Buick.

How charming!

Now it’s time to depart the ramp.  I suppose one could take the elevator.  Not me.  I walk up and down the steps every, single time.  There are multiple reasons: Number One, there’s my well-documented elevator anxiety (see Elevator Gestalt).  Two, I wish to avoid a tart little fragrance called Pisse de clochard, which I first learned to despise in the Paris Métro 25 years ago.  Three, I have to ride the lift up to the 16th floor in my building.  The stairwells are locked.  Thus, The Man makes me get into his death box.  Finally, I need the cardio.

Not necessarily

So, I take to the steps in the ramp.  Going down, I have to share my old-school stairmaster with a bunch of people.  Even though this slows me down, I don’t mind.  I will deny no red-blooded American his or her right to an elevated heart rate.  What torques me is the new class of pedestrian who insists on descending with his tankard of coffee in hand.  Now, I realize that Java Joe/Jane doesn’t want to spill a single, precious drop.  But, come on .  Your addiction is slowing down my ticker and raising my BP.

Barring an early sneak-out, you’ve survived the work day.  It has been a piece of shit slice of heaven.
In the ramp, you’re doing the downward spiral — it’s essentially the reverse helix from the pattern you wove this morning.  When you get (nearly) to the bottom, it’s time to wait once again to be let out of the asylum parking facility.  “Let me out!” screams your inner four-year old.  Instead of going all Michael Douglas, Falling Down style, you wait your turn.

Set me free, Boss

That stupid, flimsy wooden barrier gate is up and you hit the streets life a famished Simba jumping on an antelope carcass.  You yearn to open up both guns in a  Springsteen-like paean to the open highway.  Instead, you encounter the usual gamut of red lights, slow and inattentive drivers, and artery-clogged interstate highways.  But, you make it home in one piece.

The good news:  you get to do it all over again tomorrow.

And, before too long, you get to do it in that season that comes right after Autumn.

— The Major


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