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Today's word on journalism

May 8, 2009

The Last WORD

The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Driving to West Valley to get six bucks back: Don't be bullied by bad parking attendants

By R.M. Monk

March 16, 2009 | Have you ever felt scammed by a parking attendant? I have, and learned you don't have to put up with it.

On March 7, I drove to West Valley to meet up with friends and see Watchmen (you can read my review here). We decided on seeing it at 3:30 p.m. at the Ritz Cinemas next to the E Center.

As we drove into the theater's parking lot, we saw a sign that read "E Center parking, $6.00." It was for the High School Basketball Tourney later that night. Since there was no attendant present and we were there to visit the theater, I figured parking in the theater's lot would be OK.

I was wrong.

After the movie, we stopped at my car for a moment before we decided on just walking to a nearby Ruby Tuesday for dinner. As we walked away from my car, a guy in an orange coat that read "Centennial Management Group" came up to us and said we had parked without paying the toll. My friend's car was also parked there, but since we didn't stop by his vehicle, he was only harassing me. We said we were just here to see a movie and were about to show him the theater's ticket stubs before he interrupted.

"Tickets are six dollars, and if you don't have a ticket I can have your car towed."

Not wanting to fight it, I opened my wallet.

"Oh, don't pay him a damn thing," said my friend.

I paid him anyway.

As a journalism student, I've learned to keep a notepad with me at all times. I got his and his boss's name before going. Then I realized he hadn't even given me a parking pass when he took my money. I headed back, got a pass, then went to dinner.

On the way back, we decided to look at the cars near mine, which was right in front of the theater, to see if any had a pass like I was given. Wouldn't you know it, not a one did. That really started to grate me, and I wondered if the kid in the orange coat was even a legitimate parking attendant. It's one thing when someone with a weapon mugs you, but to feel someone with just a plastic badge grifted you is infuriating.

A few days later, I called up Centennial Management Group and asked if it employed a man by the name the parking attendant gave me. It did, so I explained what had happened and was told his boss would get back to me tomorrow.

He did, and I must say he couldn't have been nicer about the situation. He explained that they never tow anyone except in extreme cases, that he had a talk with his employee and if I wanted my six bucks back I could stop by their offices.

I haven't driven back to West Valley yet, but I'm going to. Yes, going and coming back will eat up more gas than six bucks worth, but it's the principle of the thing. Bad parking attendants, or any bad customer service for that matter, should be denounced and fought, or it'll keep happening to other people.


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