Warning - mini rant ahead - from both of us.
Have you ever gone to a retail store or restaurant and had a hard time parking only to find out that most of the people in the parking spaces closest to the front entrance are employees? Since when do retail employees and servers get to park that close to the front door? Apparently, it's a thing and employers are so desperate to keep employees that they won't say anything.
As you know, Jeffrey Walter and I eat out a lot and when you eat out as much as we do, you get to know not just the servers, but also many of the owners and managers. (In case you missed it, read about it here and here.) We aren't opposed to parking a little farther away from the front door of an establishment, but we have had the opportunity to make observations about who makes up most of the clientele at the places we frequent.
On a recent visit to one particular restaurant, we noticed the same car parked in front of the building that is always parked there - kinda hard to miss because he backs into the biggest space in the front lot AND he's facing the wrong direction to get out. Prior to a recent management change, we had learned that it was an employee and had briefly spoken to the manager about it, noting that employees should save those parking spaces for customers.
Well, nothing changed (obviously) but management did change, so we spoke to the new manager about it, especially since there were several cars parked right up front and we were the first customers to arrive. This time Jeffrey Walter tried to address it in a way that would persuade the manager to actually do something about it - asking questions about the average age of employees versus the average age of customers.
In this particular restaurant, we are often some of the youngest people there. When you're 57 and 58, that means a lot of people in their 60s, 70s, 80s and even older. They have even had some of the local retirement homes bring in residents by bus load. If you ran that restaurant, would you want your customers walking from the farthest reaches of the parking lot, or would you want your 18-30 something employees walking from the back forty?
Ok, for argument's sake, I'll approach the issue from the other side. So, your employees say it's not safe to park that far away or in the back forty, especially when leaving late at night. I have a response to that - your employees should be looking out for each other and you as the manager should be sure that no one walks to the parking lot alone. If it's still an issue, talk to your local law enforcement - ask them to patrol the area at closing time. (Other restaurant owners we have known over the years have done this and officers were willing to assist.)
It's not like I have no personal experience in this area. I used to work retail and always had to park in the far reaches of the parking lot - we weren't allowed to park close to the building, no matter what. Management would walk us to our car if we wanted and more often than not, other employees would be walking to their cars as well. Mall security was available at one employer, and I was also taught from a young age to maintain an awareness of my surroundings - head on a swivel. And if you think a big open-air parking lot isn't safe, you'd never survive the high-rise parking lot where I work now. I can guarantee you that it's not near as safe as walking to the back forty of the restaurant parking lot - even with all the security that's there.
Anyway, we were back at that restaurant yesterday and you guessed it, nothing's changed. The same car was parked in the same spot - not the closest spot but right out front. Our only conclusion is that the manager is too scared to lose that employee. Who knows? The world is pretty weird and stupid right now.
What do you think? Am I just being a grumpy old woman, or should employers require employees to park farther away, saving the front door parking for their customers?
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