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If I Had a Parking Lot (The Parking Lot Movie)

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That’s Fecund Ground for a Philosopher

If I told you there was a documentary about a parking lot and that you would not be able to stop watching it, you might disbelieve me. And yet. There is. And you can’t. It’s called, The Parking Lot Movie.

You can’t stop watching because of the cast of characters who each take their turn tending the unheated little hut that serves as the outpost for payment. They charge people 40 cents, or a dollar, or eight bucks and the world of the parking lot revolves around this simple transaction. The attendants are students, and recent grads and grad students. They are philosophers and professors and musicians and slackers and bikers and skateboarders. What they share in common is lots of reflection about the transactions they have with the public. These guys have lots of time to think.

This overeducated bunch connects the dots of culture from the seeming-lowest point on the food chain of work. They think about how people park and about how the car make and model and even the license plate reflect on the driver. They think about the irony of having to pay to park that lumbering, expensive SUV. They think about what it means to be a parking lot attendant, mostly. And the camera catches these comments, along with the transactions and events that drive them to the comments.

The only way to get this parking lot attendant job at the Corner Parking Lot across from the University of Virginia is to know somebody. And that fact is one key to the whole interesting film: it’s the little community of irrepressible attendants trying to sort out life together that turns a mundane job into a joyous window on life. But more than that, the guy who owns the Corner Parking Lot—Chris Farina—has a way of working with people, mentoring actually, that helps each attendant grow into the person they are meant to be. He’s boss, but he’s a parking lot visionary who has figured out how to help each attendant have ownership over the parking lot. And maybe their life.

This is a great film on its own. But I can imagine using it in a class when talking about collaboration or community—it’s a perfect illustration of both. And with the shop talk caught on camera and in context, it is a delightful and an all-too-quick 74 minutes.

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Written by kirkistan

December 11, 2012 at 5:00 am

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