Saturday, October 25, 2003

Another tradition trashed

To save a puny amount of money, state government is getting rid of the remaining nine House "parking attendants," as the tiny press release called them. These are the ParKings, the elderly men who've always haunted the Capitol grounds shooing tourists away from parking spots belonging to elected officials. Even though they're relatives and other patronage objects of the influential, they are far more than "parking attendants." They welcome tourists, give directions, tell tall tales, tame squirrels, pass along news, crack pecans and give them away, and even grow unofficial gardens in the grounds. People encountering them for the first time seldom fail to remark about what a nice tradition this is. I've always been surprised that official state and city tourist brochures, ads, and other forms of publicity have never featured these (always) guys. Supposedly DPS troopers are their replacements. What a joke! These are the folks who sit and doze in their cars all day, whereas the ParKings rose from their varied personal lawn chairs and ambled around checking into everything. Most legislative sessions pass a resolution of thanks and recognition, and at least some of these will remain on the public record as memorials attesting to a tradition that should never have been abandoned. Farewell, local color and genuine friendliness.


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