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Archive for May, 2009

My husband is a film maker. I have asked him several times to make a comedic short film displaying the habits of the bingo hall ladies. Since he has declined my proposal, I have decided to write about them, well her.

Our magazine office sits above a coffee shop. Many interesting characters walk through The Daily Grind door, and there is certainly no stereotype to apply to the clientele. However, I have yet to meet a personality as perplexing as the woman about 60 years my senior.

Next to the coffee shop is the bingo hall where senior citizens gather to play bingo four evenings a week. Each afternoon at 3:00 the parking war begins.

There are only six parking spots directly in front of the bingo hall, otherwise they must park in the municipal parking lot that requires them to walk across a small brick-paved road. During business hours, these six spots often become filled by our staff, visitors, or coffee shop customers. Though bingo does not get into full swing until the evening hours, there are a select few retired Floridians who come as soon as the doors open to secure their parking spots. Here are a few experiences I’ve encountered that are beyond my comprehension.

My friend, unfortunately I do not know her name, is often the first to arrive. She feels that spot number two, which rests directly in front of the bingo hall entrance, is her personal property. To protect her precious spot I have witnessed some very strange occurrences. On a good day, she arrives hours before bingo begins, no one has yet to park in spot number two and she parks her car. She unloads her home made cushion for her seat made out of the same fabric she used for her bingo paraphernalia  carrier and walks to the third table from the door near the window, but sits one seat away from the glass.

On a slightly off day, spot number two is taken so she must settle for spot one or three.

On a frustrating day, all three are unavailable, but she is still able to park on the front row. On a terrible day, the entire row is filled and she has to park in the municipal parking lot.

However, remember how I described her seat? I believe she sits there because that chair has the best view of parking spot number two. On frustrating or terrible days, I have seen her time and time again stare at spot number two. Then, as soon as the car leaves who stole her spot, she grabs her keys, signals her friend and they exit the bingo hall. Her friend STANDS in spot number two while she retrieves her car and moves it into spot number two. I have seen her do this when she was in spot number four or when she was in the back of the municipal parking lot 100 feet away from the bingo hall side entrance.

For two and a half years I have watched this lady and her friend. She always sits at the same table, in the same seat, and from the other side of the glass we smile at each other when I leave the office for the evening. We always make eye contact and exchange a smirk.

When I see a tan Le Sabre in spot number two I smile because I know my friend’s mind is at peace. When there is no tan Le Sabre in the front row, my friend doesn’t return the smile, and I know it is because she is frustrated that her parking spot has been stolen. However, she will smile back if spot number two is taken by my green Beetle because she knows that seeing me leave means she can come and move her car.

Can someone please explain the logic to me here? Why does her happiness rest upon that parking spot. You cannot tell me it is because she must park as close to the door as she can due to bad knees or a health problem because I have seen her walk two hundred feet to her car on a bad parking day to move it to the better spot. How does that make sense?

Or, is it like in middle school? Is parking in spot number two the cool thing to do? Does she find internal satisfaction knowing that of the three hundred people in the bingo hall, she alone has the best parking spot and is closer to the door and shame on everyone else for not getting there early enough? Like when you were 12 and came to school the day after your birthday wearing your new outfit that makes you so cool. (when in reality you are being a billboard for a clothing company PAYING THEM for allowing you to tell your friends they are cool)

I have my own theory, the only one that can remotely make sense for her paranoia. I like to think that she does it for her own well being. Parking directly in front of the door is clearly the safest option. I have seen bingo nights run until after 10:00. She could not be better prepared for her safety than to park as close as possible and have a close eye on her vehicle the entire evening. For her, this could mean a life or death situation.

I’m not sure why she is absolutely determined to park there every day. And her friends help her in the act. The little old ladies stand in spot number two so no stranger can come along and steal the spot away in the five minutes it takes her to pull the car around. I once witnessed her sit in her car with the air condition running for two twenty minutes idling at the entrance to the parking row so that as soon as some one pulled out she could slide right in.

Every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoon when I walk past the glass windows at the bingo hall between 3:00-9:00 I make eye contact with my friend, and we usually exchange a smile. Hopefully one day I am able to ask her for her name. Maybe I’ll even get up the courage to ask her why parking in spot number two is so important to her.

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Change in Pace

I have decided to change the pace of my blog. I just updated my about page. I have been pondering this for several weeks and have decided that I would like my blog to focus on story-telling. Although occassionally an opinion of mine may peak through regarding public relations or media, the focus of my blog will be on sharing the stories of those with whom I come in contact. I have heavily considered my next topic and will soon be sharing with you the story of a tiny old woman I see three times a week, and she never ceases to amaze me.

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Making News

I firmly believe that although our economy is not at its prime, the media makes the problem worse. Fox 13 News, Tampa’s local news station aired this piece following USF’s Friday commencement, of which I was involved. The angle they spun on the exciting event…a difficult job market. Do you want to know my thoughts? Jobs are out there if you are willing to look hard enough, take risks, and prove you did more than party for four years. However…I can’t help but share with you that Fox did decide to show me walking across the stage. Thanks to the Honors College, I was the 2nd person to walk across the stage. Here’s the piece…I’m somewhere in the middle, standing next to President Genshaft, but not shaking her hand due to Swine flu.

(I have tried several times to embed the video…can’t figure it out. Here’s a link)

Sophia Graduating on Fox News

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