‘Where a few cars are gathered together, there shall a car guard be also”. (With apologies Matthew 18:20)
When preparing to go for my driver’s licence test 41 years ago, I remember having to practise over and over again to parallel and diagonal park. When our children were in the same position 20 or so years later I remember them having to do the same. Avoiding those poles and not crashing against the kerb which damages the wheels and their alignment, was a daunting task to a new young driver. From what I have seen in the local church parking lot things do not seem to have changed much.
So what is the issue? It is that I am beginning to wonder why we get ourselves so worked up and stressed to achieve perfection in this area of driving a car. It seems that we really did not achieve very much but the car guards appear to have had special training in directing one to a parking bay, how to get the car into the bay and then, when returning to your car, directing you out of the bay. Never sure whether to trust the car guard completely or to do it the way that I have been trained. I mean, I paid an awful lot to learn how to get that parking technique just right. Thank goodness it was before the K53 process. I might still not have a licence!
So, back to the car guards. They are a necessary feature, not only in SA, but I have seen and seen them in England as well. What irks me is that it would seem that, until there were car guards, none of us really knew how to park properly. The linked web page describes how car guards have to pay to stand in parking lots and, sometimes, making just enough to pay the boss of the company supervising them. Occasionally they make a bit extra to buy something for dinner, according to the letter in the website. But, to me, their job should be to guard the cars and not to act as traffic wardens or packers of my boot.
They seem to do 1 of 2 things. Firstly, they run to meet you as you leave the shop door, grab your trolley and basically take over. You might say, “Oh, but they are helping you” and my response is that I managed do this for 30 something years so do I need them now. I think it is a way to ensure that they get a tip. The other thing they do is to wait until I have walked back to my car, packed away the shopping and started to reverse out of the parking bay when, lo and behold, a car guard is at the rear waving his/her hands showing me how to reverse from the bay. He/she had been nowhere in sight until I started the car’s engine. ie my car was probably not in their line of sight either so why should I pay a tip and follow the waving hands. Every now and then I deliberately change the direction for fun. Suddenly the hand waving is all uncoordinated!
Now, I am truly aware of the plight of most car guards and my heart goes out to them. some are highly educated and had to flee horrific situations and others have been retrenched and are considered too old or lack certificates to find other work. Most are usually very polite and pleasant and very grateful for quite literally any tip. Sometimes I prefer to buy them a fruit juice or liquid yoghurt instead of paying cash. In Durban’s heat that has usually been very well received. There are some, though, who just irritate me and find it necessary to tell me where to park, how to get into the centre and then make sure they are very close to you and your car when you return. Why do they not simply guard the cars? I would gladly pay a tip if I am not pestered or if I can clearly see that they are looking after my car, but if not, why should I reward them.to