Yesterday in Toronto we were visiting our son who is living at a large Bible College and Seminary that will remain nameless.
At 5:30 PM, there were only 3 cars in the parking lot. We were the 4th. The place was deserted. Apparently the students have other places they can be on the weekend. Nothing going on inside except for the sound of crickets.
However, on entry, we were informed that parking our car would cost us $1.00 per hour. I couldn’t help but point out to the girl on the desk that there was nobody there; there was no reason to attempt to monetize an empty lot.
But, not wanting to do this fine institution out of some revenue, my wife and son, who had change were happy to oblige.
Then we had to wait while a receipt was hand-written. That is to say, with a pen and ink. I am not making this up. I don’t know what they do when the college is very busy, but there must be much receipt-writing.
And since we had only paid for a single hour, we watched the clock as we ate — choice of hamburger, pizza or hamburger — under threat of having our car towed away.
I felt like perhaps I should write them a thousand dollar check so they don’t have to go through this nonsense with people. Pay it forward for the next thousand parking hours.
But then I also thought this is a public relations disaster in progress.
Policies need to make sense.
If they need money, ask for a donation. Tell people, “We ask visitors to make a voluntary donation to help us pay to pave the extension on our parking lot in the spring.”
Some would simply pass. I might myself, but only because I would file the request away and see if perhaps in the near future there is not an opportunity for more significant philanthropy.
Overall however, adding up whatever change people dropped in the bucket, they’d end up with more money and a much better relationship with the Christian constituency in that city.
A dollar an hour with only four cars in an empty parking lot on a Saturday night just seems petty.