Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Parking in Dumaguete

I've written a few posts on what it's like driving in Dumaguete. I've even uploaded more than one video showcasing how it looks to one parked by the side of the street. I haven't, however, written anything on the parking situation here.

Dumaguete shares with every other city, the problem of finding suitable parking. Whether the situation is any better or any worse than anywhere else might be just a matter of opinion.

A few days ago, my wife and I had business in the city. Our first stop was at a bank on Real Street - a one way street that's usually one of the busiest. Surprisingly, we found a spot directly in front of the bank. My wife went inside to take care of business while I remained in the car.

While waiting, I noticed a group of four or five, college-aged Filipinas walking up the sidewalk. The group began glancing at me and talking among themselves. One finally worked up the nerve to tap on my passenger side window. Naturally, I rolled down the window to hear what she had to say.

They were University students, working on an assignment taking a survey on the parking situation in Dumaguete. Would I agree to take the survey, she asked? No problem, I told her.

I was given a short, printed survey and a pen. The questions were varied. Was I a student, tourist, business owner, or employee working downtown? Did I drive a car, or motorcycle? Did I have difficulties finding a parking space? There were more questions, but you get the idea.

Perhaps, I was just feeling good at having been able to find a good spot in front of the bank, but I gave all positive responses; nothing negative. When I finished the survey, the students thanked me and went on their way. When my wife finished her business, we drove to Lee Plaza where my parking experience that morning was very different.

At Lee Plaza, there is underground parking available for customers. Pulling into the parking garage, you're given a ticket by one of two security guards at the entrance. One helps you find a spot to park, guiding you into your place. No bumping other cars there, you can be sure. Before leaving the garage with your car, you must present the guard with the validated ticket.

The validation process is straight forward and simple. Upon leaving the Mall, you see the cashier at the liquor store; you hand her your receipt and, if you've purchased Php 200 or more, you get free parking and you ticket is stamped. If you don't spend the minimum, you're charged Php 20 per hour in the Mall. As I said, you give this validated ticket to the security guard on your way out of the garage. We've done this time and time again with no problem.......until that morning.

That morning, there were two guards, one with a white uniform shirt, the other guard wearing navy blue. We had parked on the upper level, and as we made our way to the exit, the taller man, wearing the navy blue shirt, was directing a car into a parking spot. He approached us, I rolled down the window and handed him the validated ticket. He even thanked my wife, saying "Salamat, ma'am", rather that "sir".

When we exited the garage, we were stopped by the 2nd guard who asked for the ticket. I gave it to the other guard, I told him. Oh, no, the guard in the navy blue shirt says we did not give him the ticket. This was less than 2 minutes after handing it to him. We would not be allowed to leave until we produced the validated ticket.

No matter how we argued, this guard insisted that we did not give him the ticket.

My wife and I went back into the Mall, located a store supervisor and explained the situation. We still had our grocery receipt showing that we had purchased more than enough for free parking. She went with us to the cashier who had validated the ticket who told her that we had been there just minutes before.

The three of us, my wife, the supervisor and myself went back to the parking garage. The supervisor explained to the guard that we had our ticket validated.....there was no question about that. He still insisted that he did not receive it.

Not speaking Bisaya, I don't know exactly the conversation going on between my wife, the supervisor and the guard but we were finally allowed to leave. I wanted everyone involved to know that I would be returning and would do my very best to have this security guard fired. I made a big show about getting his name from the patch on his uniform.

When we arrived home, my wife asked me not to pursue having the security guard fired. He was a jerk and a moron, sure, but we shouldn't have someone lose his job over this. Besides, she said, because the ticket had disappeared, there would be an investigation by the security guards' supervisor.

We've needed to purchase groceries and school supplies since that incident, but we've chosen to shop at Cang's rather than Lee Plaza. Cang's also has underground parking. This week was the first time we had used the garage there, and, needless to say, it was a much better experience than our last visit to Lee's.

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