I wrote the following as part of a speech I gave earlier this year. It is a fun and relatable story, definitely worthy as an episode of life.
This past weekend my husband and I scheduled time to go to a move. I can’t believe scheduling fun was necessary, but time gets swallowed if you don’t designate how you would like to spend it. That is quite a loaded statement, but I am just going to let it hang out today.
We planned to try out a movie theater we hadn’t been to before. Generally, I am a big fan of experimentation. I think it is important to try new things so you know for sure if it is a “Hell Yeah!” or not so much; and don’t waste further mental energy spinning your “what if” wheels, so to speak. In this case I would say the results were mixed.
On paper the theater and mall appeared very nice, with lots of great stores and restaurants. When we arrived we discovered, planning for the parking and access to all these marvelous shops and restaurants was poorly thought out to say the least. Literally, it was worse traffic getting in and out of this parking lot then trying to exit after a major sporting event or a concert. Seemingly no thought went into design of travel within the shopping center. There were lots of one lane “roads” with traffic flow controlled by one or two exits for the entire mall, and they had traffic signals limiting the number of cars that could exit at once.
On arrival we observed that the traffic was backed up so we parked about a quarter mile from the theater, knowing it would be much faster to walk. And hoping traffic would thin by the time our movie concluded. At this time of year it was a balmy 35F out. We walked quickly. The theater was nice, no line (probably because everyone was stuck in the parking lot traffic), very efficient and clean. They even had a super cool setup with the 1,000 flavor coke machines and ICEE machines available to fill your own cup. I am sure this helps keep the line at concessions manageable. The theater was filled (no empty) seats, but stadium seating allowed everyone to have a good view (no heads in the way, hooray!!!).
After the show, we walked quickly back to the car; as the temperature did not increase as night descended on the plaza. We navigated the parking chaos for about 45 minutes. Which means we were able to back out of our parking spot then sit behind the most indecisive and passive driver ever. Technically there were 3 cars in front of us, but the car immediately before us needed significantly more time than the earlier two to pull into a line of cars that was barely moving.
We were fortunate, however that their indecisiveness provided us with considerable time allowing us to observe the entirety of the traffic situation. We noticed there was one lane of traffic that was moving, slowly, but moving. Despite the fact we had no idea where that lane might lead, we choose to give it a shot. Wonderfully, this ended up being a convoluted route but a route that lead us on a considerably less crowded and more time friendly, way out. Alternately, while our initial plan did not include staying for dinner, we could have randomly tried a restaurant, this became plan C, which fortunately was not needed. Overall, the amount of time to exit the parking lot was still excessive.
Generally, the location, shops, restaurants and theater were great. If the weather had been nicer we might have walked around more. Not sure if that would have helped or hindered the traffic situation. Unfortunately, the horror that was the parking/traffic condition solidified us to most likely not visit this retail establishment again for a few years, or unless there is something we absolutely must have from here. Hopefully, by then they will have made significant adjustments.
I was glad we tried someplace new to us. We learned the critical nature of the back-up exit strategy. Plus in traffic the passive driver just makes everyone else angry. OR maybe traffic just brings out the worst in all of us. (That is definitely a topic for another day). We also garnered a strong appreciation for the many retail locations that are planned optimally, allowing many people to enter and exit simultaneously.
Every new adventure, even if it is as small as trying out a new shop, provides some lessons learned. Happy adventures!