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This column reflects the opinion of the writer. To learn about the differences between a news story and an opinion column, click here.

Opinion >  Column

Paul Turner: Parking provides a trophy hunt in Spokane

Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

The key to life in Spokane is convenient parking.

At least that has been the considered opinion of many observers of the local scene for a long time.

If prospective customers visiting your business or offices are able to park within a few feet of the door, there is a chance your enterprise will succeed. If not, well, good luck.

Or so it goes, according to the conventional wisdom.

This can be debated, of course. And, even if you accept this premise, there is disagreement about whether it makes us an unsophisticated jerkwater town or simply a sensible city that prizes convenience.

But it has long seemed to me that this analysis overlooks one aspect of Spokane reality.

That is, we are a city populated by competitive drivers engaged in a steely-eyed pursuit. They are looking for the miracle spot.

You know what the miracle spot is. It’s the unbelievably prime parking place that opens up right next to your destination.

Sure, all drivers crave a convenient parking place. But instead of requiring that it be presented to them on a platter, some accept the challenge of finding it. Consider it a form of hunting.

The miracle spot is the suddenly open space that announces itself to you with a choir of angels.

It makes people in Spokane happy in a way few things besides bargains can.

And it’s also the reason some residents, a few at least, think Spokane’s crime problem is worse than it is.

That’s because motorists in search of the miracle spot have been known to stalk people walking out of a building toward the parking lot. They will follow you to see if you are about to vacate a great parking place. They are ready to pounce.

If it looks like they are watching your every move, it’s because they are. If you can hear that foreboding music from “Jaws” as they close in, well, that’s probably your imagination.

Many of us recognize this stalking behavior for what it is. To others, however, it can look decidedly sinister.

“Is that guy in the white van following me? Is he after my purse?”

Of course, the real crime here is that some parents spend so much time searching for the miracle spot that children in the vehicle can sense their youth slipping away as dad circles and circles, ever watchful.

It’s as if accepting a so-so parking spot farther from the store’s entrance would be admitting defeat.

And you know Spokane. We don’t like to do that.

Just wondering

Which habit makes someone seem like a more interesting person – getting up really early or staying up really late?

I’m not asking for a friend.

Of course, an individual’s work or childcare schedule often dictates the choice. But sometimes it’s simply a matter of personal preference.

Getting up early can suggest an eagerness to face the day and get on with it. It has connotations of being in tune with the natural world. It can make you seem like someone who eats “To do” lists for breakfast.

On the other hand, staying up late hints at creativity and being ready for inspiration to strike while you listen to an old album or watch a classic movie. It conjures images of wet streets and a saxophone playing.

And lastly, what happens when people from the two camps become a couple?

Retirement reality

Having undertaken detailed financial planning is important, of course. And it is always wise to have done a lot of thinking about what you are going to do with this new chapter of your life.

But for recently retired men, there is another consideration that has to be taken into account.

What about shaving? Do you need to do it every day?

Some say the answer is “Yes.”

They reason that not shaving is the first step on a slippery slope toward, well, becoming a scruffy retired guy who doesn’t shave. Might as well wear a sign that says “No longer in the game.”

Is that who you want to be? What if you have things to do, people to see, goals to accomplish?

If you want people to take you seriously, you probably ought to attend to your grooming. To say nothing of your self-image.

Others suggest the answer is “No.”

Depending on what you have planned for the day, shaving might not be absolutely required.

You don’t have to regard skipping it as some bold act of liberation. You can just take it day by day.

Or you can do what a lot of retired guys seem to do. You can grow a beard.

End note

Thanks for all the kind notes.

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