A Way to Alleviate Frustration and Access Your Inner Child Without All Those Expensive Therapy Bills

It is seriously infuriating to deal with gobs of weather-delayed traffic, only to have to deal with the incompetence of the Kennedy Center parking department. A little background: I work in the Watergate complex, and as one of my perks, my parking’s comped. No complaints there. Unfortunately, our building — which was on the verge of being condemned — is under some serious construction, and they’ve closed the garage under our particular building. As a compromise, they moved me over to the The Watergate Hotel; it was a bit of a walk, but the garage was open 24/7, and staffed by folks who were at least competent. Unfortunately, as fewer folks from our company started parking over there — the Kennedy Center garage is a lot closer — they couldn’t afford to keep paying for that option. So over to the Kennedy Center I went, where the vast majority of our commuting employees have to park.

Unlike my previous arrangement, the garage is only open until 7pm, after which point you can be assessed a fine; they physically close the gates at midnight, at which point not only can you not get out, but you’ll be charged an additional fee. No parking on the weekends, either (or, rather, you’ll have to pay the full daily rates). But worst of all, the garage is staffed by a crew that doesn’t make the slightest effort at... oh, not even service, but basic human communication. I’ve never seen anyone over there even crack the slightest hint of a smile. The parking administration doesn’t even want us there, and have repeatedly made conditions and costs more prohibitive in an effort to drive us out; don’t worry, folks — we’re moving, and we’re more than happy to take all of that parking revenue with us.

So this morning, when I finally get to the garage — already lamenting the fact that my tardiness means I’ll have to park just that much farther from the garage exits — the entry lanes into the garage are clogged. Apparently, the archaic card-key system they use is on the fritz, and isn’t letting anyone into the garage. So I’m stuck there for ten minutes, in the rain, while the single person they’ve got manning the booths does... nothing. Now I’m not saying it was all her fault — setting aside the construction-related issues, I suspect the parking office just hasn’t given the booth attendant the authority — or, perhaps, the ability — to just open the damn gates!. What’s the point of even having somebody there if they can’t actually do anything? Finally, with the help of one of the security guards, who eventually came over in curiosity about the rapidly-expanding line of cars stuck in the entry lines (from which there is no other escape), they managed to get the system working again. I’m reminded of a day I spent with the family at the National Zoo — cut short by an unexpected rainfall — when the parking attendants blindly prevented people from leaving while they collected their three-dollar parking fees, all the while ignoring the fact the frustrated people were on the verge of fisticuffs.

A beautiful start to a beautiful day. Hah! I need some kind of diversion. Let’s see, what have we got in the hopper?

I noticed this while traversing cyberspace last week, but Lisa over at the Capital City Desk made reference to it before I could (well, I’m sure a lot of other folks have too, but not in my immediate circle of referents). Remember the old TV-console video games from the late ’70s and early ’80s: Atari, Activision, Namco? Well, JAKKS Pacific is relaunching a whole collection of those games in a series of self-contained controllers! In effect, what used to require a big console box — with the attendant hookup difficulties — is now completely contained in a unit the size of the original game’s joystick. That’s it.

Along the same lines, Mattel has rereleased the old handheld electronic football game; with the exception of how things are handled behind the scenes, it plays just like the original. I remember my brother and I setting up entire football seasons to be played out on this little thing — up to and including the playoffs and Super Bowl (if he didn’t live in Massachusetts now, I’d challenge him to a rematch in a heartbeat).

I suppose it’s not all that surprising, but really, it takes some original thinking (or, I suppose, retro thinking) not only to come up with something like this, but to make it work. It remains to be seen whether Gen-X nostalgia will be enough to make this sustainable, but I applaud them for trying. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to run out and pick up that football game...


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