I really tried to stay away from going overboard on the car parking stories this year. I made sure to mention them in every post, but in re-reading some of my posts from years gone by, I notice that some of them go on and on about a day in the life of a car parker.
And this will be one of those posts.
I had been hearing the weather forecast for a couple of days, and was fearing both the amount of rain, as well as the entire day being a potential washout. In a way, I had thought I had prepared myself for a dismal day of parking. But earlier in the week, I had determined to break the family record both in the number of cars as well as revenue. Those two worlds collided in my head. And it was quite the bummer.
I can honestly say that I have worked harder - and longer hours - to park as many cars as possible this year than in any other year. Now a lot of that had to do with the kids getting older and (like Mitten and Grizzly) moving out, or (like Sloppy and Gooey) having other interests. But other than a little help from Mitten who is home from college, just about all parking duties were handled by myself and my beautiful bride. We snuck out of work early on some days to get a jump on the neighbors, and we didn't have dinner a couple of times (stop laughing) to get that one or two last cars parked. Earlier in the run of the Fair it was warm and humid, and a couple of times we stood in the rain. We kept the eye on the prize at all times... we were going to try to set that record.
This day didn't start well. I went to bed after midnight, and before I fell asleep, my cell phone rang. It is a sound that nobody wants to hear... nothing good can come of a phone call between 11:00 PM and 6:00 AM. This was from Mitten, he had been in a four-car accident on the freeway. He was OK, but by the time he was ready to get picked-up and then we got home, it was after 2:00 AM.
By 7:00 AM, I was up to put our cars on the street (so we have more room for parking cars on our property). Working on short sleep did not help my disposition, and by 11:00 AM (which is when Saturday car parking begins in earnest) it was pouring. I peaked my head out around 1:00 PM and though the rain had stopped, there was absolutely no traffic in the neighborhood.
We finally started around 2:30 PM. There were only a couple of neighbors out, so I thought that I would fill my yard at $5 per car before the others came out, and I can be in the house watching the Brewers game while they all start to fight each other. When I get one leave, I could replace it at $10. So brilliant in theory.
We managed to park 8 or 9 cars before the two neighbors directly east of me (closer to the Fair) came out at 4:00 PM. In the next hour (mind you, that hour was in prime time on a Saturday) we parked only three more cars before it started pouring again. During the storm, three cars from our yard left.
I was getting quite frustrated, and the lack of sleep made it worse. I was angry at the weather, the neighbors, the drivers that didn't park by us, etc. I went back outside with an umbrella while it was still coming down pretty good. By 6:30 PM, I had replaced those three cars, but at no point had I filled the yard. I even dropped to $3 (Side note; On a Saturday? Are you kidding me) for the last 45 minutes, and I did not get even one car at that stupid price.
So for the day, we parked 14 cars at $5 for a total of 130 cars. We are still 10 cars ahead of last year (120 at this point). But we are hurting on the average price (I mean, you can't spend a quantity of cars). Tuesday through Thursday brought full yards which inflated the total, but at only $3 per car. Then on a day (today) where $10 per car would be easy-peasy without the rain, the per car average took another hit. We may be 10 cars ahead of last year, but we are $27 behind last year.
To add to the demoralization, as I had mentioned earlier this week, we had an anomalically (Side note; I made up a word!) strong second-Sunday last year, parking 24 cars at an average of $6 each. I just don't see that big of a day tomorrow. That has me disappointed.
But I'd rather be disappointed to miss a goal that was important, rather than to be happy with failure. Moral victories are for losers.
So Sunday morning will go like this. My-Sugar-Na and I will get to the Fair around opening time, and will find a decent breakfast (I didn't like the Machine Shed pancakes last year). We'll bum around before the crowds get too large, then we'll head back. We will be home around 11:00 AM to try to park 15 cars (to beat last year's car total) at an average of $11 each (to beat our all-time revenue record). When the traffic in the neighborhood slows to a trickle, we will head back for dinner.
We'll reflect on the 2011 State Fair, and all the interesting things that happened, from the kid hit by a car in our neighborhood, to the riots that same night, to the gorgeous weather we had for most of the week, to the race for the record that we had just finished running. Then we'll start missing the Fair, and I will once again get all girly and nostalgic about why I love the Fair, and what I'll miss about it until next August.
And by Monday, I will have something else to whine about.