Valet Parking is for Pussies

Dear Dallas,

I've had enough of your authoritarian valet system.

I think the hatred began this summer at Wild Salsa. It was a slow weekday night, and we pulled up, handed over $7 and watched the valet back the car up three spots and throw the transmission in park.

I could have done that. Except, no, I couldn't. Parking in evening valet zones downtown comes with dire consequences.

Another night, I met friends downtown at the City Tavern. We were having a fine time until one of them watched her car sail by the window on a flat bed. Turns out she'd parked in a valet space, which was entirely her fault, but still -- it fucked up my night. The fiasco also set my friend back $250 in tickets and towing fees.

Then, two weeks ago, as we pulled up to Mr. Mesero, I saw the dreaded valet stand and implored my friend to look for parking on the street. We tried a few blocks before parking in a spot directly behind the restaurant we were about to patronize.

"You can't park there. It's valet," the jacket-clad parking jockey said as we got out of our car. We told him that were were eating at the restaurant, but he maintained that he had to park the car.

"Would you park it right here?" we asked, pointing to the spot in which we had more than capably parked the vehicle ourselves. The valet employee nodded in the affirmative. "Well, can we just tip you and hand you the keys?" we asked. He nodded again. So now we're doing the parking, and still paying and tipping for the service? I'm pretty sure this is exactly how parking works in hell.

The Porch, Katy Trail Ice House, Meddlesome Moth: It's like this all around town -- restaurant after restaurant trying to mandate valet parking in parking lots directly next to the very businesses they serve. That's just stupid.

Valet can be a good thing. In dense urban environments, it's often worth it to hand over a few bucks and forgo the aggravation of seven trips around the block looking for a parking spot. But Dallas isn't a dense urban environment. There are streets and parking lots and parking garages everywhere. And I'm more than capable of finding my own spot without paying and tipping someone to do it for me.

I tie my own shoes in the morning. I make my own coffee on the weekends. And if my vehicle is going to end up seven feet from where I drop it off, I'd prefer to just park it myself.

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