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TITLE: Policing the Parking Lot
By Bella Rossiter
08/25/08
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Working for Princess Tours in Talkeetna Alaska was like "picking door number three" with no idea what was on the other side! living near Mount McKinley was worth every new challenge I experienced, especially at 66 years of age!
It can really be a disaster, and get me down. I just finished telling a co-worker, “The situation is so serious it’s funny!” And that is the attitude I choose to overcome the difficulties of trying to monitor the shuttle stop.

Trains arrive twice a day. We have anywhere from four to ten full-size Princess Tour coaches bringing somewhere between 200-500 passengers, either to visit Talkeetna, or go directly to the Lodge. There is actually a posted notice that the “gravel pit” is

FOR MOTOR COACH PARKING ONLY!

However, it must look like “a miracle parking space dropped down from heaven!”

I can almost see the eyes bugging out of their sockets. “Yes! Well, I never seen anything like this, Elsie! Easy access and easy exit for our giant motor home hauling our car behind!”

“Are you sure, Harold? It says Motor Coach Parking Only!”

“Well, if this here vee-hicle ain’t a motor coach, I don’t know what is!”

“Uh-oh, sweet darlin’, don’t look now, but there’s a parking patrol over there an’ she’s headin’ right toward us.”

“Never you mind, sweetums, I’ll take care of that ol’ gal.”

“Excuse me, but you’ll need to move your rig as soon as possible. Ten Princess coaches are due to come in here in about five minutes. Thank you!”

“We’ll be just a minute, honey. I’m gonna visit the porta potty.”

Ten minutes later the first Princess coach arrives. It swings wide to accommodate the huge vehicle smack dab in the middle of the lot.

The cantankerous old coot driving the beat-up camper, spies the motorhome in the gravel pit and shouts with glee, “Hey, we can park in there, Dumplin’.”and scoots in right alongside.

Breathless, I trot to the driver’s door and put on a big smile, ready to recite my spiel. It goes in one of his ears and right out the other. “Do you own this lot?” he spits at me.

“Nine more Princess coaches are on their way here with 450 people, and that’s what this lot is for!” I look sincerely into his eyes, willing from him an agreement that it’s a good idea that he moves along.

“What about the fancy rig here?” implying that he has just as much right here as the next guy.

“He’s already been asked to move. So I’d appreciate it if you’d understand and work with me here, okay?”

The fancy rig and the beat up camper reluctantly depart like two dogs with their tails between their legs.

The rest of the coaches pull in, release their cargoes and pull out again. I take a deep breath, rise to my full height of five feet two, pat down my bright white hair, and retreat to the shelter of the guest services office.
Already the tourists are pressing for attention, and the Outfitters concentrate on giving it to them; either directing them to tours and sights to see, or resolving grievances, real or imagined.
Quiet descends. One hour creeps by. Quiet. Two hours creep past. Yawn. Three hours.” Wow, what do you guys do all day?” asks the “employee of the week,” who works the afternoon shift.

In one more hour, the show starts all over again. Too tired to explain, all I can muster is a hangdog expression and a sighful comment of “Please. Don’t even ask...”
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