In the Seinfeld episode The Parking Garage, Jerry and the gang spend hours fruitlessly searching for their car in a huge, labyrinthine parking lot (for a taste, click on the above clip). I used to think this episode used exaggeration for comedic effect. On the weekend, I discovered it was pretty damn close to reality...
Until very recently, I blithely assumed only feeble-minded people were capable of misplacing their car in parking lots. After all, it's not like you need to be Marco Polo to retrace your steps — as long as you make a mental note of the level and column colour, it should be a piece of cake. Therefore, anyone who gets lost simply isn't paying attention. Or so I used to think.
My self-belief came crashing down last Sunday at Westfield Penrith shopping centre. It was one of the most stressful experiences of my life. As the complex closed behind me, I returned to where I was sure I'd parked my car with a trolley of groceries in tow. To my horror, the car wasn't there. Could I have embarked off the wrong floor?
At this point I was 80 percent sure I was in the right place but there was an outside chance my car was actually on the floor above — I was currently on level 2 and I distinctly recalled walking down one flight of stairs to reach Woolworth's on the bottom floor. But maybe I wasn't remembering clearly.
I attempted to re-enter the shopping complex, but discovered that the doors were now locked due to it being closing time. I was therefore forced to lug my trolley all the way to the cinema entrance which was the only way to get back inside. (The other alternative was to push my trolley up the car ramp — but this isn't advisable after 6pm with lots of hoons about.)
Around fifteen minutes later, I finally got off the lift on the floor directly above. My car wasn't there either. With my groceries rapidly melting and a sinking feeling in my gut, I finally began to entertain the notion that my car had been stolen.
Like a man possessed, I embarked on a madcapped dash around the car park's entire footprint as the trolley lurched drunkenly from side to side. I even pushed it down the aforementioned ramp and repeated the process on Level 2, which I had already checked. All to no avail.
Defeated, I trudged back to the cinema and informed a security member that my car had been stolen.
"Are you sure you were looking in the right place?" he asked.
I explained about walking down the flight of stairs, which meant it had to be either on Level 2 or Level 3. His deadpan response filled me with both relief and self-revulsion.
"...You do realise that there's a Ground floor, right? Parking Level 1 is actually the shopping centre's second floor. Which means you should be parked on Level 1."
He was right of course. And I was an idiot with a ruined tub of ice cream.
If only I'd bothered to follow the advice in our how to ensure you never lose a parked car post, eh readers? Bookmark it before this happens to you.
Have you ever misplaced your car in a parking lot? How long did it take you to find it? Share your stories in the comments section below.