I had a baffling… I guess you’d call it a customer service experience earlier. It was extremely unpleasant at the time, but looking back on it, it was just plain bizarre.
Some context first: where I work (which is some 30-60 minutes’ drive from my house, depending on traffic), there aren’t enough parking spaces for everyone who works there to be able to park, so parking spaces are limited to those who carshare. I don’t carshare because I’m an antisocial fucker who likes driving along blasting out Final Fantasy tunes at full volume… and also I don’t know anyone else coming from my direction. This means that I have to make alternative parking arrangements, of which I have three choices: park on a lorry park about 10-15 minutes’ walk from my office; park on a residential street about half an hour’s walk from my office; or park on a multi-storey car park in town about 30-45 minutes’ walk from my office.
None of these are particularly desirable options, but of the three, the lorry park requires the least amount of trudging through the cold and also means that I’m more likely to be able to start working early and consequently finish earlier in the afternoon. Downsides to the lorry park include the fact that, being a lorry park, lorries tend to be given priority, and consequently sometimes it’s simply not available if there are too many lorries already parked there.
Downsides also include, as I discovered today, the staff.
It costs £12 for a week’s parking on the lorry park, payable in cash. I inevitably forget to get the cash until first thing on Monday morning, necessitating a quick trip to Tesco to draw out £20, then break a tenner on a bottle of water or something. This morning, however, I knew that I had enough money in my wallet, so I simply went straight to the lorry park without having to stop off. I pulled up as normal, handed over my tenner and the remaining £2 in change — 50ps, 20ps, 10ps and a few 5ps.
“You’re having a laugh, aintcha?” said the attendant, a sour-faced man who clearly derives no joy from his miserable occupation whatsoever — and who can blame him? I initially thought he was joking, but then he continued. “You’ve had all weekend to get your change together and you give me that?”
Confused, I wasn’t quite sure what to say. I will add at this point that I had counted out the change in front of him and apologised for it being in “shrapnel”, and he hadn’t said anything until the money was already in his hand.
“What the hell is this?” he continued. I still wasn’t sure what he was so angry about. It was the right money.
“Sorry,” is all I could really say, since I’d apparently mortally offended him by giving him anything other than two nice, neat, shiny gold pound coins.
“Yeah, well you won’t do it again, I’ll tell you now,” he said aggressively — a statement which appeared to have a pretty clearly implied threat in it — and sent me to go and park at the far end of the lorry park.
I then spent the rest of the day paranoid that I’d come back to the lorry park at the end of my shift to discover my car in ruins, or the attendant refusing to hand over my ticket, or something equally unpleasant. It stressed me out a great deal throughout the whole day, and as I walked back to my car after a day’s work, I found my stomach churning in that way it does when you know you’re on the way to do something unavoidably unpleasant that scares you a bit.
Fortunately, my car was still in one piece when I collected it, and when I asked the attendant — who was busily directing a large lorry into a tiny parking space when I arrived — if it would be all right to pick my ticket up tomorrow morning, he simply said it was fine, apparently having forgotten the whole thing.
I’m glad he has the luxury of being able to forget the fact he was a complete cunt to a paying customer at the start of the day, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to forget the incident particularly quickly. As I say, it stressed me out all day — all the more so for the fact that 1) it was so incredibly irrational and 2) there wasn’t really anyone that I could report my experience to — and it’s enough to make me seriously reconsider parking there any more. Were it not for the fact that parking anywhere else is such a long distance away — making my commute almost as much time walking as driving — I would abandon it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure I have that luxury, but we’ll see.
Anyway. You may think that this was a stupid experience not worth getting worked up over, but it was extremely unpleasant to be a part of. I hope there’s no repeat of it, and while I’m loathe to capitulate to this attendant’s apparent (and, until today, unstated) demands to pay using nothing but £10 notes and £1 coins, I may have to do so if only for a quiet, stress-free(ish) life.