By Julyanne Long

My career in parking started at a hospital valet. It was a new operation that was “temporary during construction.” Needless to say, hospital construction and reduced parking brought a lot of unhappy customers. We were parking about 300 cars per day, rain or shine. After the patients got used to the new parking situation, the numbers gradually went down to about 200 per day. Working with that many cars and customers every day, you quickly get to experience a plethora of valet scenarios.

Being at a hospital, you get to know many of the regular patients. I didn’t realize the impact we had on these patients until one day, a woman I knew well came up to me with tears in her eyes. She was the daughter of a cancer patient who had been coming to my valet for months, usually on a daily basis. The daughter always brought her mother to all of her chemo treatments, doctor appointments, etc. For the previous week or so, her mother had been weaker than before, now requiring a wheelchair and needing more assistance with loading and unloading. I feared the worst.

The woman gave me a huge hug. Then, as she wiped her eyes she said, “We just got the news today. My mom is cancer-free.” Then she smiled, took my hand, and said, “I just wanted to thank you for everything you and your guys have done for us. We have gone through so much lately, and you have been there every step of the way. No matter what type of day we are having or how busy you are, you always take time for us with a smile on your face. We usually dread coming to this place, but we always look forward to seeing you.”

I will never forget that woman or her mother. That day is a constant reminder to me of how important it is to keep a positive attitude and how much of an immense effect it has on our customers.

Julyanne Long is senior operations manager with Winpark.