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Paul Turner: Finding the ‘Miracle Spot’ downtown

We hear a lot about reasons to avoid downtown.

Some seem paranoid, others simply matter of fact.

You can decide for yourself which of these familiar considerations have merit.

But it’s my belief that at least some of those who offer themselves as experts on our urban core – even if they profess to stay away – don’t admit the real reason they supposedly steer clear of downtown Spokane.

You see, some locals believe they have no parking luck. After a while, that can mess with your mind.

Here’s what I mean by parking luck.

Let’s say you have some reason to be downtown that’s not Bloomsday or Hoopfest. So you get in your car and head to your destination.

Once you arrive, you discover there are no unoccupied street-parking spaces immediately adjacent to the business or office you intended to visit. You circle the block a time or two, but nothing opens up.

You would rather handle snakes than use a pay lot or parking garage. So you widen your search area by a block or two but still find no parking places.

Your conclusion? Downtown Spokane is a savage hellhole. You’re not coming back.

Now that leap of despair might suggest you are not cut out for city life. And it could be argued the Spokane area has an abundance of those with similar attitudes. That’s a discussion for another day.

My point is parking luck can go a long way toward determining how you feel about downtown. You see, some people have a different sort of experience.

Say they want to go downtown for one reason or another. The prospect of putting coins in a meter does not deter them. So they head toward their specific destinations and just as they approach, another driver pulls out and vacates a parking spot right in front of where they want to go.

This is known as the Miracle Spot. It invites you to conclude that you must being living right.

It is downtown Spokane’s Moby-Dick.

Depending on your personal belief system, the appearance of the Miracle Spot may or may not be accompanied by the sound of a choir of angels. In any case, those with this brand of parking luck tend to view downtown in a more positive light.

Oh sure, you can have good parking luck and still encounter unwashed panhandlers, leering cat callers, whacked out addicts or whatever. But you are less likely to let such fleeting encounters define your experience. You will remain open to all the interesting possibilities downtown represents, as Petula Clark musically suggested ages ago.

That’s my guess anyway.

Some say you make your own parking luck. But I suspect a few of those folks ride the bus.

Stick to it

I haven’t conducted an exhaustive survey or anything, but I’ve come to a conclusion.

Women who can drive vehicles with standard transmissions tend to be good-looking.

OK, I know that sounds kooky. I’m just telling you what I have observed.

Now I know what you’re thinking. What possible correlation could there be between the ability to operate a clutch and attractiveness?

You got me. Maybe shifter skills give a woman a glow of substance and capability.

As we all know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is pretty subjective stuff.

So perhaps some of us just think women who can drive a stick possess a certain air of self-reliance that, when combined with a few classic feminine qualities, makes for an alluring presence.

Whether being able to handle a standard transmission makes a man attractive is another matter.

In any case, the ranks of those who can operate a clutch are thinning. Progress? You make the call.

Though perhaps we already have enough signs that we’re all in that famous handbasket, heading for its well-known destination.

All I’m saying is Inland Northwest women who know how to shift gears have a tendency to look good doing it.

The power of a ‘FREE’ sign in Spokane

I’m no expert on real estate marketing.

But I’ve been wondering if Spokane agents might be missing a bet when it comes to selling houses on busy streets. Instead of downplaying the traffic reality, perhaps they could promote the decluttering potential. You know, “You can put something out by the curb with a ‘FREE’ sign and watch it disappear in three minutes.”

Hey, not everyone wants to hold a yard sale. Not everyone wants to load stuff up and haul it to Goodwill.

Can’t you just imagine playing up this liquidation potential on front-yard “For Sale” sign flyers?

“Save on dump fees!”

“Cut out the giveaway middleman!”

“Gone in 60 seconds!”

Of course, there’s nothing stopping people on quiet streets from trying the “FREE” sign approach. But I can tell you from my bike rides, stained couches and old cassette players tend to move slowly when hardly anybody sees them out by the curb. I believe the word I’m searching for is “languish.”

Anyway, it’s just a thought. I had heard this rumor that people in Spokane like bargains. Maybe you’ve heard that, too.

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached at