All you people running a top-notch Canadian productivity website need to pick up this post, because I just discovered a way to save about two hours on every Christmas shopping trip.
You know what it’s like out there this time of year. The stores and malls are jammed and the parking lots and parkades are even worse.
A guy can drive around for an eternity trying to find an empty space. In the process, you deal with people who won’t let you into traffic, block your path as they wait for a spot to open up in some special territory they’ve staked out – or worse – whip into the space you’re signalling to enter and then claiming they didn’t see you.
By the time you finally park, the stores are about to close and you’ve lost whatever Christmas spirit you might have had.
This afternoon, I headed out to start my Christmas shopping, fully prepared to spend about half the time I’d allotted to making circuits of the parking lot.
My first stop was a parkade, one already so jammed the machine wouldn’t let you take a ticket until the traffic arm at the pay booth raised to let somebody else exit.
When I got in, I joined the long line of cars making the trek to the roof, not finding any spaces along the way, slowing to trail anybody carrying packages and generally eating up the day.
Turned out the roof was full. So we all played follow-the-leader back down, hoping to find an open space before the guys coming the other way.
And then I saw him.
He was an older man, obviously confused, clicking his key flob around the top floor. He was trying to find his car.
I rolled down my window and confirmed he couldn’t remember exactly where he’d parked.
“Get in!” I said, “We’ll find it together.”
He seemed relieved, happy for the help. I admitted that my motives were not pure. When we found his car, I got the spot.
Five minutes later we found it. And two minutes after that I was in the elevator while everybody else kept circling.
By the time I hit the mall, I’d perfected my technique. I just drove up to the entrance and waited for somebody loaded down with shopping.
“Hey!” I called. “Need a ride to your car?”. The guy I’d targeted appeared caught off guard by the offer. But the woman behind him was no slouch.
“Are you serious?”. I assured her I was. Five minutes later, she was on her way and I was parked and heading for the store.
Now, I realize this could quickly become a viable MO for rapists and muggers, but I’m counting on the spirit of the season to trump all that.
Both the people I helped (and who helped me) remarked that a stranger lending a hand made them feel like Christmas was just around the corner.
I could say the same thing. Now if I could just find somebody dying to string lights…