St. Cloud, FL. parking cars for my church’s Fall Festival, an
interesting task to say the least. I was assigned to the paid parking
One would think that this is a relatively harmless event that requires
little more than the ability to stand on your feet for several hours,
collect some money and point to the parking lot. Even and idiot like
me can handle this task. NOT!
The fact of the matter is that it was made more interesting because of
one major factor — HUMANS.
Some of the people approaching our parking lot were there to park for
the Fall Festival, an annual event that our church sponsors to raise a
buck or two. For the lack of a better description, it is a mini-fair.
Like all fairs everywhere, you attract an element of people who rarely
possess a full mouth of teeth. They are there for the rides, the beer
and the fun. Coincidentally, our Fall Festival ran simultaneously with
several Mass schedules. As a result, parking was at a premium.
The folks going to church were there for that reason, not to go to the
Festival. Naturally some would stay for the Festival, but most were
catching 4:00 p.m. Mass which had to be held in the gym because the
church was surrounded by the festival exhibits.
“I’m not paying $5.00 to go to church,” one man bellowed. “Then you’re
not parking here my friend. There’s a free lot down the street.”
“I’m not driving all the way down the street to go to church. That’s
another zip code,” another said. “Sorry,” I responded, that’s where
the free parking is. And, by the way, the Mass is being held in the
gymnasium next to the free parking lot.” No brainer.
“I’m not going to Mass in a gym,” screamed one old-timer. “Then I
guess you’re going to sit this one out sir because that’s where Mass
is being held today.” He responded, “That’s sacrilegious!” I
responded, “Sir, I’m not your confessor, I just park cars. I’m not in
charge with church policy.”
The one that really killed me was the old lady that pulled up, blew
her horn at me and asked me “What time is 4:00 Mass sonny?” Really?
You’ve got to be kidding me!
Naturally, I had to dodge my fair share of drivers who considered me
an obstacle that was blocking their path. To be fair, most were over
age 90 and didn’t notice the ridiculous bright yellow vest I was
wearing, indicating that I was the parking dude.
Another killer was the fact that I myself had to pay $5.00 to go into
the parking lot where I was volunteering to park cars… and collect
$5.00 from others. All these people complaining about paying to go to
Mass didn’t get it. Even the volunteer parking attendant had to pay
$5.00 to park other people’s cars. Go figure.
“I’m going to call the Bishop on Monday morning,” screamed another.
“What Diocese are we in?” he asked. Obviously this old boy was a
snow-bird from up north doing his winter run in St. Cloud. I couldn’t
resist- “Sir, we’re in the Diocese of Atlanta.” The geezer responded,
“I’m calling them on the Bishop on Monday morning!” Terrific! I even
thought about making up a phone number… but that was taking the
process to a ridiculous new level.
Mind you, I’m here to park cars, not to justify where the church is
holding Mass. Another lady who was going to the festival gave me a
credit card and said “I want to charge it.”
Now get this… I’m standing in the median of a busy road and she
wants to charge $5.00 to park. She insisted, so my response was to
take her card and turn with my back to her. I turned around and handed
it back to her and said “Miss, I’m sorry, your credit card was
denied!” To which she stormed off to the free parking lot down the
street, grabbing her plastic as she blazed a path.
I should have done volunteer parking duty before I wrote my seventh
book, published by John Wiley and Sons, titled “It’s the Customer,
I might have renamed the book “It’s the Stupid Customer!”
Michael Aun is a syndicated columnist and writes a weekly column for
this newspaper. To contact Michael Aun, email him at