You are bound to be forced to use underground parking on your travels. It may be because of the hotel, shopping malls, or a crowded city centre. They can be nerve-racking at the best of times, but the first time is always the most challenging. For this reason, I prefer to rent a smaller car than a bigger one in Europe.
Let this story be a lesson to us all!
Let me preface my comments by saying that Place des Arts is a wonderful venue, and I have been many times. If you have an event there, it is in a beautiful location. However, I have always walked or taken public transport to get there.
I had to go downtown for a medical appointment early in the morning. Much to my chagrin, there was no street parking, so I decided to use paid underground parking at Place des Arts. $3 an hour, but I felt I could be out in 40 minutes tops. (First Mistake – don’t make assumptions about how long something will take.) I walked out via the car entrance to save time and ensure I knew where I was. (Second Mistake – always go in and out the same way in underground parking).
I was finished with my appointment in record time and headed back across the street to get home.
I entered Place Des Arts from St. Catherine Street. There were no signs on how to get to the parking garage. I encountered a lovely maintenance man who told me which way to go after asking where I was parked. I couldn’t remember if it was “G’ or “J.” (Third Mistake – Make a note of what level and area you are parked in… write it down if necessary. Remember, GPS usually doesn’t work in tunnels or underground.) After walking down and up a flight of stairs, I went outside and took the ramp to my car.
It was under 40 minutes by the time I reached my car and picked up the ticket which needed paying. I had left it in the car in my rush to get to my appointment. (Fourth Mistake – always take your parking ticket with you. You might even be able to get it validated.)
I took my ticket and went to find the kiosk as instructed. It was not on the same floor as I was, so I walked up a flight and then back down a flight. Of the four staircases I eventually tried in my journeys to pay and get out, only one had a working escalator. The significance of this is that I had just had an x-ray on my left knee and was concerned about my pain walking up and down stairs. I can only assume that they are functional during a performance or event.
I couldn’t find any kiosk, so I drove to another entry – same story, different staircases. My third attempt was to go to an exit and hope that someone there could help me. After what seemed like 5 minutes of driving around, I came to an exit with disabled parking but no attendants. So off I went inside to the main floor. (Fifth Mistake – when you go through a door, always check that you can go back the same way).
Once again, I came across my helpful maintenance man. He showed me the only kiosk in the building that serviced at least 1,000 cars. He told me one could pay directly at one of the three exits. Which one was beyond me as I felt like I had been driving around an a circle forever.
I paid my ticket, which was $9 (I just squeezed in under $12) and headed back to the car. I got to the entrance of the parking lot only to find the door was locked. Inside was the disabled button and an open door to the parking garage, but I couldn’t get through. I walked back to the main area and down a staircase, but it was clear that this would not get me to my parking level. I went back up and looked around.
I saw across the venue a security sign and headed there. When I arrived and tried to explain my situation, tears were welling in my eyes. I had had enough. Once the guard understood my predicament, she said she would release the door for me remotely so I could get through. Somewhat relieved but still skeptical, I headed back, and for the third time, I saw my helpful employee. I explained what had happened, and he could see I was beyond myself. He said he would come with me to the door to ensure it would be opened. It worked, and I thanked him profusely. I wish I had asked his name to let others know how great he was.
Seven minutes late, I was home in my own underground parking garage.
If you are over 70, you will recognize this . . .
Did he ever return?
No he never returned
And his fate is still unlearn’d
He may ride forever
‘neath the streets of Boston
He’s the man who never returned.”
If you are under 70 (credit to Douglas), the best analogy is being a bug in a roach motel and unable to find your way out.