Theft with Consent

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(Originally published in July of 2003)

This column is long overdue.  To put it in library terms, which I guess I already did (but I'd like to elaborate), this column is like checking out a book in 1998 but not returning it until yesterday.  And by yesterday, I really mean tomorrow.  This analogy will only grow as time continues because yesterday and tomorrow are both relative terms.  I can't wait until the space creatures read this in the year 2577.  Maybe they will e-mail me when they do, just so I feel like my previous sentence came with a purpose.

As far as my purpose, I'd like to address the issue of valet parking this week because, quite frankly, I think it's the worst system in the world.  If I was still on that library kick, I'd add that Dewey Decimal -- if that <i>is</i> his real name -- would be laughing in his grave.  Now I understand that this is a "fancy" way to park because someone is doing the parking for you, and anytime someone does something for you, it's automatically better.  The same ideology is what makes room service more than just expensive food.  I also know the argument that valet parking is a privilege, because instead of having to park your own car into a visibly tight spot, some random person will park your car into an area that you can't see because that's how special it is.  Privileges aside, this worries me because if you took away the voluntary nature of the system, it would be considered grand theft auto.

That's right -- valet parking is the one time when we are basically telling a stranger, "Go ahead, steal my car.  I trust that it'll be here later."  And sure, virtually 100% of the time it is.  But what about that 0% of the time when your car just isn't there and that valet parker turns out to be a person who knows how to find the appropriate attire online?  Furthermore, what is the guarantee that your stuff inside the car will still be there?  This is a time period when the valet can do anything he wants with your car -- change the radio station, eat your food, kill your friend still sitting in the passenger seat -- so we need to think more carefully about why we continue to utilize this system...

Some would say that the system is faster, but oftentimes the self-parking area is right next to the valet.  Others would add that valet allows someone else to hold your keys, and if that is supposed to be a good thing, then why don't we just hand in our wallets at the door as well?  So, when it comes down to it, speed and convenience aren't prominent enough to be used as valid evidence (I am really tackling the legal terms in this column)...

To prove the risk of valet parking further, I must question why we don't hire random house sitters.  You know, just stop a passerby and ask him to stay at your house for three days while you're gone, and in return you'll let him eat all the fish sticks from the freezer he wants -- even though you don't have a freezer -- and he can pet your dog twice.  Or, since I'm on the animal kick, why don't people who walk their dogs in a park just switch dogs temporarily with someone else?  This is essentially what valet parking is, except that parking isn't a two-way trade.  If it were a two-way system, I guess that would have to be called "parallel" parking, but I'll have to save that for a different column (note to self: please don't)...

Unless required by law or the front-seat passenger, I will continue to park my own car.  I am not implying that I want valets to lose their jobs.  Rather, I am just noting that I don't want them to do anything.  I guess that would make them government officials...

But I digress.

Comments

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