Tag Archives: travel

Combos, Cashews, and Calendar Dates

Bag of Combos in cheddar cheese flavorBy Kim Fernandez

Depending on my ultimate destination, I stop at either the Wawa just past Annapolis or the Wawa  just through Easton (about a half-hour past the Bay Bridge) every time I drive through Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The first order of business is topping off the car’s gas tank, and then I park by the side of the store and go inside to wash my hands and grab a bag of Combos. Pizza flavored. Every time. Because they’re my road-trip snack.

If I’m flying, I get to BWI much earlier than necessary, park and shuttle to the terminal, trudge through security, and visit the Hudson News Booksellers in terminal A for a bottle of water and a bag of honey-roasted cashews. Every time. Because they’re my flying snack.

My grocery store carries both pizza-flavored Combos and honey-roasted cashews, but I never–ever–buy them there, nor do we keep them at home. They’re traveling food and I can’t explain why, but having my road and air snacks when I’m heading somewhere several hours away is part of the fun, and picking them up at those specific stops is part of the ritual. Even my taste buds know a trip is afoot. Got my Combos, got my music, got somewhere to be.

I’ve picked up Combos twice since late May and have a date with honey-roasted cashews this fall, and honestly, that feels wonderful. There are other cars around me on the road and plenty of people to watch at the airport, and as much as traffic jams and gas prices and security lines stink, having them back in our lives is a breath of refreshed air. Onward!

I wish you a happy return to the road and the air and hope to see you out there soon. Don’t forget the snacks.

Kim Fernandez is IPMI’s director of publications.

On The Road Again

driving car on the road, travel backgroundBy Matt Penney, CAPP

For the first time in a year and a half, I was on the road again. I ventured outside of the Baylor University bubble in search of parking knowledge. For me, visiting other people and locations is a highlight of our parking industry. Zoom is O.K., but in my opinion, good people and walk-throughs are always better in person.

So I jumped on Texas Highway 6 for a short hour and a half drive to Bryan College Station. Peter Lange and his always friendly Aggie cohorts welcomed me back to Texas A&M University. Wow, their new offices are stunning! And innovative! I got the tour and saw several friendly faces I haven’t seen in awhile–even did that awkward half handshake/half fist bump COVID combo that is currently a part of our new normal.

There were discussions about COVID, parking demand, revenue, and what the future might bring. It may be the group sidebar conversations that are missing from video conferences. These “rabbits” from the professional jargon help you understand the personalities in the room. From the personal to the humorous, these tidbits make up the personalities we connect with.

It was a good visit. The onsite observations provided the exact information I was looking for. The 6-foot distance still seems a little forced and I miss smiles unblocked by masks. In all, I probably wasn’t on campus for more than a couple of hours.

I hope you get the opportunity to connect in person sooner than expected!

It was good to be on the road again.

Matt Penney, CAPP, is director of parking and transportation services at Baylor University.


ON THE FRONTLINE: That’s Karma, Vincent

By Cindy Campbell

ONE OF THE RUNNING JOKES I HAVE WITH FRIENDS centers on the theory that I have good parking karma—or is it CARma? (I digress.)

Let’s focus on the concept of karma for a minute. It’s been said that there is no such thing as luck and that we make our own luck. I believe the same can be said about having good karma.

To illustrate, let’s consider a recent travel experience I had: One of my flights was delayed, causing me to miss connections. The end result was a two-hour Uber ride to arrive at my final destination. Fully anticipating a long, unpleasant ride, I dreaded requesting the car. But rather than creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, I did a little self-talk, changed my attitude and outlook, and decided it actually had the potential of being an inter­esting journey.

Meeting Vincent

Driver “Vincent” called me in advance of his arrival. He knew the curb designated for transportation network companies would be chaotic and wanted to coordinate with me in advance of the pick-up. Once at the curb, he exited his car and greeted me with a warm smile and a handshake: “Welcome! Let’s get you settled in for a comfortable ride.” He knew this was going to be a long trip and made the effort to put my mind at ease. With his congenial approach, Vincent had already conveyed that this trip would likely be a pleasant experience.

As he drove, we chatted about the challenges with air travel and about our respective families. Vincent had served as a pilot in the Air Force. After his mil­itary service, he worked as a special assistant to a now-­retired airline CEO. Vincent saw this executive as a mentor who projected a professional passion for al­ways putting the customer first.
That revelation led to a conversation on the topic of how badly people sometimes treat customer service representatives. I told him stories about the parking and mobility industry and the disrespectful attitudes and behaviors our frontline professionals encounter. “You know, I’d never really considered what you folks have to deal with. That’s gotta be a tough job!”

Vincent was right. It can be tough. As service professionals, we understand that people can be downright mean and disrespectful. They can be intolerant, dismissive, and unwilling to take personal responsibility.

The Good Stuff

I told him, “While that’s true, I also have to say that on a daily basis, we encounter plenty of good people. Kind people. People who recognize and appreciate what we do to keep everything circulating and safe. The problem is when we fail to recognize this, when we only remember and recognize the unpleasant contacts, it can make our work life so much less fulfilling.” For the rest of the drive, we shared positive, sometimes funny, stories about people we had each encountered over the years. Time flew.

Two hours later, we arrived at my destination. Vincent got out of the car and placed my bags on the curb. He shook my hand again. “Ms. Campbell, this trip has been the highlight of my week. I can’t entirely put my finger on why, but I feel happi­er—and that was a long drive! Thanks for that.”

That’s karma, Vincent.

A chance encounter presented the opportunity to extend a positive attitude, or karma, toward another person in hopes that he would return the favor. On this day, my effort was not in vain.

The reality is that I could have missed out on an amazing human encounter had I not caught myself and adjusted my attitude. We can be our own worst enemy when it comes to dealing with the bad attitudes hurled our way. When we choose to extend the proverbial olive branch to others—even when they don’t seem to deserve it—we sometimes have the ability to turn a negative encounter into something special.

Read the article here.

CINDY CAMPBELL is IPMI’s senior training and development specialist. She is available for onsite training and professional development and can be reached at campbell@parking-mobility.org.