A few weeks ago I parked in the downtown parking garage on 5th and Mission. I scampered in to the mall to purchase a birthday present for a friend. Time constraints required I leave within twenty minutes to make it to dinner on time. I raced in, bodily shoving past people and hurdling over “Caution: Wet Floor” signs. Anyone who has ever shopped in downtown SF knows there is almost no physically possible way to park, enter the mall, locate a present, wait in line, purchase said present, and get back to car within twenty minutes. But by god I was going to try. Ultimately I was able to detect gift, buy gift, and dash back to car. Except that I couldn’t find car. I was absolutely no-doubt-in-my-mind-completely-positive it was on the third floor, but I guess I hadn’t noticed which end it was by or any sort of landmark. I waddled up one direction (inhibited by shopping bags, of course), desperately searching for the dirty white Jetta. My dirty white Jetta. Nowhere. I cut across to the other side and continued my frantic struggle with my completely useless vision and the slightly darkening night sky. I must have looked either dreadfully misplaced or frenetically mad. Or both. I may have had a crazy look in my eye and a grimace of concentration on my face. I really don’t know. I do know that as I shuffled around a corner a golf cart hurdled towards me, screeching to a halt five inches away from my sandaled feet. I screamed.
“Can’t find your car?” a man who appeared to be dressed in a Halloween parking attendant costume inquired.
“Well, no, actually, but...” I replied.
“Get in,” he said with a corresponding arm motion.
“Get in! The parking structure hired me to help people find their cars.”
“Jesus,” was my very intelligent reply. “So it’s not just me?”
As we flew in very intricate circular patterns around the parking garage in our golf cart, we determined that downtown San Francisco + large parking structure + speedy people (such as myself) = this man’s job. And we were okay with that.
*For the record: total time it took to find car upon entering the 3rd floor: thirty-three minutes. Thirty-two of which were spent on the 3rd floor. The thirty-third minute was on the 4th floor.