Valet Parking, or Why I Can’t Have Nice Things

Sometimes when I feel like I deserve nice things, I’ll humor myself a bit until I can recall why I really don’t. For example, the last time I gave into “treat yo self” was when my friend and I went to a classy Japanese restaurant called Uchi during their happy hour for half-off appetizers. We each ate three sublime pieces of sushi for $15 before we remembered who we were and returned to her place for a real dinner of string cheese and apples.


Last Thursday, I went with TDM (“The Death of Me”) to Fogo de Chao. Fogo de Chao is a fine dining Brazilian steakhouse, or “churrascaria,” where servers whisk around cuts of meat for you to peel onto your plate with personal tongs. Pretty expensive, but they had a buy two meals get one free special, and we went for lunch during my 3-hour break before my 2PM, Writing Narratives.

We made the rookie mistake of assuming there’d be parking in downtown Austin before resigning ourselves to $10 valet parking in front of Fogo. Or, in TDM’s case, $15 because he drives a “large vehicle.”

TDM: How much harder is it to park a truck?

Me: $5 harder, apparently. That’s the difficulty premium.

He was unimpressed. We walked in. Nothing particularly eventful happened inside Fogo: the place wasn’t too busy at 11AM, the interior was fancy, the meat was tender and cheese bread airy, I significantly overate… Again, nothing eventful.

When we emerged—probably now the weight of three people—a man in the black valet polo approached, eyes wide and lightly smiling.

Valet: So… there’s been a little accident.

His eyebrows were lifted so high up that we thought he was kidding. I grinned back at him, expecting a clap to TDM’s shoulder and the classic “it’s a prank, bro!” But Valet’s expression didn’t change, and he gestured for us to walk alongside him.

Valet: One of our female drivers made a little scratch on the side of your truck.

Shocked—but still registering the “female” detail as somewhat unnecessary—I followed. It was not a “little scratch.” The dent was so large the passenger door looked like a lightly used sheet of aluminum foil.

It almost seemed disrespectful to take a picture of the truck. (

Valet: We just hired her. I’m so sorry. We sent her home, she was crying so hard. She felt terrible.

He gave TDM his information and went to find someone else to talk to about a repair shop, leaving the two of us to gape at the damage. TDM was taking all this in stride, still clearly on a food high. I seemed more upset about his truck than he was.

Valet returned with directions to the repair shop and, this time, addressed me.

Valet, to me: I just want you to know, I have nothing against women driving.

I blinked. TDM and I had both noticed his earlier “female driver” remark, and I guess I appreciated this amendment, though I mostly just found it funny that he’d brought it up himself. He seemed to have a lot of other things to agonize about.

Valet opened the passenger door for me. Or, at least, he tried. It wouldn’t budge. TDM tried. Valet tried. TDM tried again. Valet yanked it open with brute force.

I climbed in, found the door wouldn’t close, and am particularly proud of refraining from telling Valet he probably shouldn’t have done that.

The locking mechanism was broken, so Valet looped around to the other side to study the working mechanism. He fiddled around with it. I leaned down to check out the mechanism and remembered I needed to be on campus at 2PM to hand in seventeen copies of my short story for distribution to my Writing Narratives class. Each story was thirteen pages, and I hadn’t yet organized or stapled the printed pages (or even checked if they were all there,) having assumed I’d have time before class began. It was almost 1:30, I was still downtown, and I possessed no stapler.

make it rain

TDM: Maybe you can… hold… the door closed. As we drive up.

Me: *frantically shuffling 200 sheets of paper*

Me: Okay!

There was a thud. I looked over. Valet had managed to work the mechanism so that now TDM’s door wouldn’t shut, either. Sifting through pages in my lap, it looked like I was missing thirteen copies of page 12. I started laughing.

Ten minutes later, Valet found some non-valet guy—to this day I still wonder from where—who managed to fix TDM’s mechanism and tie my door closed with a cable through the window. I found the page 12s. TDM decided to drop me off on his way to repairs, and I flew into the study lounge outside my 2PM class at 1:58 with none of my pages stapled.

My friend was manning the lounge’s front desk, and together we started gathering the shambles of my life. Frantically stapling the papers at 2PM, I looked up and made prolonged eye contact with my 2PM professor emerging from the classroom. He looked at my pages, looked at me, and then turned to walk back inside.

I sighed, somewhat resigned to what felt like the appropriate, natural conclusion.

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Last post: Austin Food Festival: I’ll Do Anything for Free Food, Even Pay

13 thoughts on “Valet Parking, or Why I Can’t Have Nice Things

  1. Love the illustrations. The 2nd one (flipping the pages) would be great to show my Eng 102 class to hint that they need to get their next essay done. What’s your feeling about my using it for that purpose?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You have the gift. Oh yes you can write in a way that I can actually see the grimace, hear the mechanism groan, feel the door thud, and hold my breath while you frantically staple, but ummm, not that gift. You have the gift that all the impossible in the world listens to the challenge, “come get me!” Please don’t stop.

    Liked by 1 person

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