Archived Story

Parking, shopping and another goofy name

Published 8:40am Friday, March 25, 2011

Column: Between the Corn Rows

One of the real challenges for area residents is to find a parking place for a vehicle at the Albert Lea Medical Center on a weekday.

It doesn’t make any difference if the visit is for a medical appointment, laboratory or eye clinic test, to pick up pharmaceuticals, make a payment or even visit a patient in the hospital portion, the key is to first find a parking place.

On several occasions I’ve noticed that every place in the main parking lot between Fountain Street an Alma’s main building is occupied. Yet, there are several vehicles slowly moving around this parking lot looking for a space to become available.

Now, here’s where the game aspect fits in.

I’ve learned in this parking lot, plus those based on shopping centers and the “big box” stores, that careful planning and patience will result in obtaining a parking place for the vehicle.

One way to achieve this parking goal is to watch the people leaving the ALMC. As they walk into the parking lot, just drive slowly and keep a respectful distance, give them plenty of space to back out, then take their former parking space. Sometimes this gimmick works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Anyway, there’s the option of making a quick shift to follow another person leaving the ALMC and hopefully getting their parking place.

The goofiest episode I can recall is carefully watching a young lady leave the ALMC about a year ago. I kept a respectful space between us as she walked through the parking lot towards the southeast corner. Sadly, she went between two vehicles, through a space in the hedge onto the sidewalk, across Fountain Street and kept going towards what used to be called the East Clinic. If this was part of a game; it’s obvious I lost.

Another time I followed a young lady who went directly to a vehicle. There were several other vehicles roaming around the lot, but I was in the best position to get the parking place.

She opened the vehicle’s door and reached in to retrieve an envelope. Then she closed the door and went back towards the ALMC. It’s obvious she had forgotten some document or something else. As a result, I rejoined several other vehicles driving around the parking lot still looking for a place to park.

Before I forget this detail, there’s an alternative parking lot available for folks at ALMC. It’s across Fountain Street with entry and exit driveways based on St. Mary Avenue.

Right at this point let’s switch the topic to bargain hunting.

Years ago one of my buddies with a tendency to be somewhat sarcastic had a rather odd saying. It was, “If you can’t find it here, you don’t need it.” This comment could evidently apply to a specific store or even an entire community.

This bit of odd logic indicates one should do their bargain hunting and shopping somewhere else, like another city. Maybe some prices are cheaper and merchandise choices are more extensive somewhere else. However, there are two real snags to this concept. How about the price of gasoline, plus the time spent driving to and from another city? Also, there’s the challenge of finding a parking place in a location that could be as crowded as the main ALMC lot on a weekday.

The goofy game that’s very seasonal this time of year for vehicle drivers is what can be called “pot hole dodging.” And at this point no further comment is really needed.

Ed Shannon’s column has been appearing in the Tribune every Friday since December 1984.