update: a parking shortage at my office is forcing me to park a mile away

Remember the letter-writer who was being forced to park a mile away from her office because of a parking shortage? Here’s her update.

I continued with my gentle reminders for my manager to request that my parking be moved, as she had asked me to, but at the same time started searching for a new job. I was able to park for free a lot of the time, on a street about a block away, and the rest of the time I parked in patient parking and was subsidized by my parents.

I only found one job that seemed like a good fit. I applied, and waited, and kept bugging my manager and waited … a couple of months later, a friend of mine was talking to an administrator at the organization I’d applied to and the administrator mentioned what a tough time they were having filling this position. My friend said he’d expected they might interview me, and the administrator said she hadn’t seen my application and asked if he would encourage me to reapply. I did, and they called me for an interview the next day. After that interview, I was asked in for another. That one also went well and I was offered the position a few hours later. I accepted, and they requested that I start about 3 weeks from then.

It took me a couple of days to get up the courage to give notice – as well as find a time to do so in person. My manager was amazing – shocked, but amazing. She wanted to hear all about the new position and was really excited for me. She got me extra support staff for the notice period so that I could fully train my colleague who will be the only nurse in the office full-time until my replacement is hired.

I told most of the folks I worked closely with either that day or the next, but some of the doctors I worked with were not there more than once a week, and a few were on vacation at the time; this didn’t seem like a big deal to me, as the nurse and doctor hierarchies are separate — I wasn’t interviewed by a doctor, and my reviews aren’t done by a doctor. My manager and her manager, and her manager, all the way to the top of the chain are nurses. But when some of the docs returned from vacation, they were *furious*. At first I thought with me, which made me really angry, but they were actually just mad at the situation, and upset that they weren’t asked to help before it got to this point. I feel like I complained about the parking to anyone who would listen, as you can well imagine, and I know for a fact that includes some of those who were so upset. Maybe I didn’t seem as serious as I was, but none of them believed me that this was a deal breaker until I’d given notice.

Up until my second to last day, there were doctors trying to get me to stay. Asking what kind of a raise it would take, and assuring me that they could get me moved to the closest lot, immediately. They thought it was outrageous that I was being “allowed” (their word) to leave for an issue they thought was so fixable. I told them it had been an issue for 6 months by the time I interviewed, it’s not like this was a matter of weeks. I was a little bit annoyed that they didn’t suggest any of these potential fixes until I was literally out the door, but I had no reason to believe I should have gone to them with the concerns instead of my manager. I talked to her about their saying they could fix it, and she wasn’t so sure that was the case. Plus, I would never quit a job before I started, or revoke my notice at the last minute! I would still be having a panic attack if I’d have done that!

My office threw me a going away party, and it was awesome and I was waffling for a couple of days about whether I’d made the right decision, but …

I think I have. I’ve been at my new place about 6 weeks now, it’s very interesting, and I’m very independent. My salary is almost exactly equal to my previous one, the commute is a half an hour less, so I get to drive my kids almost every day, plus I get home almost an hour earlier, parking is *free*, and I never have to walk more than about 100 feet to the door.

Without Ask A Manager, I might have switched jobs, but I wouldn’t have had nearly the confidence in my resume and cover letter, nor the courage to tell them what salary I wanted. Thanks so much!!

{ 59 comments… read them below }

  1. J.B.

    Wow! Glad that worked out for you! And I understand that the individuals you worked with really have no control over the parking situation, but hopefully situations like this will eventually lead to change.

  2. BRR

    I’m so happy you got this new position. In addition to the parking it seems like you got a much better work-life balance. I imagine the doctors might have been able to make something happen but my guy tells me it might have not been fixed or it might have not been fixed permanently.

  3. Jeanne

    Thanks for the update! I think you did the right thing. I suspect those were empty promises so they wouldn’t have to deal with replacing you. Your new schedule sounds great.

  4. A Dispatcher

    Congrats on the new job, I hope that it continues to go well for you. Either way it sounds like it’s better for your work/life balance even if you had gotten prime parking at the your previous job since the commute is much shorter.

  5. Jennifer

    Sometimes the only way to solve a problem is to leave. If they’d rather lose a good employee than fix that, then that’s their loss.

    1. Seal

      Hopefully they’ll learn from this situation and make sure it doesn’t happen again for the next person.

      1. JB

        Agreed. If you have a legitimate complaint that’s fixable, and employers won’t fix it until you’re walking out the door, you don’t want to work there. And managers should know that this is a good way to lose good employees.

  6. Apollo Warbucks

    It’s really nice to hear you had such a posative out come. It’s a shame that your manager wouldn’t listen to your very clear message about the problems you were having. Employee retention starts way before people are pissed off enough to be thinking of leaving.

  7. Chriama

    I’m glad it worked out for you, though disappointed the old workplace didn’t seem to care until you were already leaving. When you say you asked
    I remember the comments on the original post being really… interesting. I think that was one of the posts that prompted Alison to come up with the respectful commenting guidelines. It just goes to show that it’s really hard to understand the full nuances of a situation from just a short (or long) email.

  8. Cupcake

    Congratulations on the new position. It sounds like several issues have turned out for the better with the switch. Your experience reminded me of something a wise friend once said about a significant other who just didn’t want to do anything about the problems in a relationship until it was declared to be over: “When the situation was hurting me, you didn’t think it was important enough to change. Now that it is hurting you, you are willing to change.” Too little, too late, I’m afraid.

    1. Chriama

      I really like that framing! Too many times we end up in one-way relationships with people who are supposed to care about us.

    2. ThursdaysGeek

      “When the situation was hurting me, you didn’t think it was important enough to change. Now that it is hurting you, you are willing to change.”

      That is an excellent summary!

      1. Not So NewReader

        Yeah, so for OP to be heard on various matters she would have to threaten to quit her job over and over and over.
        No, thanks.

        I would be very surprised if the doctor’s could do anything about the situation.
        I think you made a great call on that one, OP. And congrats on the new job with a better setting.

  9. Annika Potato

    I don’t really blame the doctors in this situation. It sounds like you have a separate management structure and there was nothing anyone could do. But so glad it all worked out for you!

    1. JB

      Well, except that they knew she was unhappy and, when she said she was leaving, they said they could fix it. That might not be true. But if it was true, then they knew about the problem and did nothing.

      1. MK

        My guess is, it’s not true. The doctors most likely didn’t have the authority to do anything or it would cost them too much in terms of clout to do so. It was pretty safe for them not offer to intervene after the OP has resigned

        1. Cassie

          My thoughts too – the doctors probably *think* it’s fixable (because maybe if they were assigned to a further lot, there would be hell to pay), but in reality, it might not be.

          It’s just like parking at my university (which we have to pay for) – our faculty get to park in the lot right next to our building. Staff have to park in the lot across the street. Students are assigned a lot that is much farther away. That’s the way the system is set up, no if ands or buts about it.

          And really, how many doctors (or professors in my case) would actually take the time to fight on behalf of someone else about something like this? It’s one thing to talk about how easy something is to fix, but it’s another to actually try do it. The OP might be a great employee, but unless one of the doctors had a vested interest, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was more lip service.

  10. Case of the Mondays

    I’m really happy you found a new job with a parking situation you are happy with. I think you were right with leaving. This was a situation that would never fully resolve. If they gave in to you, they would have 100 other employees threatening to leave if they didn’t get prime parking. There just isn’t enough prime parking and they can’t give it to everyone. I know so many people in awesome jobs that have to either pay for their parking or walk half a mile from their parking spot to work. Urban planners need to a better job on this front in my humble opinion or we need to fix our public transportation infrastructure. I once worked somewhere that would pay for my round trip commuter bus ticket because it was cheaper than paying for parking near the office.

    My only issue with your solution is I don’t think it was fair of you to park in patient parking. If everyone did that, there would be nowhere for the patients to park. A healthy employee can physically handle the trek. A sick patient can’t.

    1. MK

      You are assuming the parking was full everyday and the OP was taking a patient’s place. I doubt that’s the case, I have never seen a full hospital parking.

      1. squid

        I have. Also have had to park in the furthest corner of the only lot with spots open, with a physical injury that made it very difficult to walk. (In the winter, too. But only uphill one way.)

    2. Chriama

      Agreed. If parking was really an issue staff would be forbidden to use the parking lot, instead of just discouraged (via additional fees).

      1. Artemesia

        I remember a friend who was POed that her car was towed because she ‘always paid the tickets.’ She couldn’t comprehend that the point of restricted parking was to discourage parking there not rent it. In this case, staff is not to park in patient parking; if they all did it, the system would fail. They don’t have a hard and fast rule because it hasn’t been abused. If lots of people make it a habit then it becomes a hard and fast rule and then the occasional staffer who actually needs it for a temporary situation is SOL.

        1. Bend & Snap

          Meh. I don’t think this is worth getting het up over. If it had been an issue they would have told her to stop. And it does sound like she was the “occasional staffer who actually needed it.”

          Let people’s workplaces police their parking behaviors.

    3. Stars and violets

      If the patient was that sick, a) they wouldn’t be driving and b) they would get dropped off at the door.

      1. Artemesia

        Because what you really want to do with a sick relative is dump them off at the door and go home — of course they need the parking.

  11. Celeste

    Oh, what a great update! This was the one I was most hoping to read. I love when things work out even better than you’d hoped. I’m glad you didn’t stick around to find out if the doctors could fix the parking issue for you or not; reality is, parking is probably only going to get worse there, and a fix they find may not even be able to stick if the powers that be make another change. I’m happy you got your life back in many ways and this stress is over!

  12. Lisa

    I wish that we had a way to communicate things that are deal breakers and be listened to by our managers. OP had communicated it to people, but no one took OP seriously like they had accepted an offer. But this happens long before the offer stage, things that build up to a point where you mentally say ‘i am gone, because of x, y, z and will bide my time until then.’ But you only get to this point after being ignored for so long, and made to feel like you should just shut up already as each time you mention it – you are deemed an annoyance and are told/conveyed to subtly that you should be happy you have any job and to stop complaining. Everyone has options (imho), it can be a better job, no job, 2 part time ones, job with less pay, etc. I’m glad it worked out for OP, but this is one of the many examples of employees that want to stay but have been ignored to long and their mental list of gripes gets long enough that they leave. Suddenly its a surprise and the managers are upset, because they really were ‘fixable’ situations but they chose to put it off and ignore these requests and conversations.

    1. Tinker

      Yeah, I might be repeating myself a bit but I notice a lot that folks don’t always take these sort of quality of life issues seriously — not just managers speaking to the folks they’re managing, but also in the way people generally speak about work. There’s a sort of expectation that of course work involves this sort of thing, and it’s not only not possible to solve but it’s not entirely okay to acknowledge that it is a problem.

      This is one of the ways that line of thinking tends to end. If someone’s faced with a grinding irritation and a lack of avenues by which to fix it locally, and they have the necessary economic leverage and are willing to use it, they *fix the problem*. At which point tears often flow — as in this case, when the decision was seen to actually have been between “fix OP’s problem” and “find replacement for OP” suddenly the former option seems doable, at least in retrospect.

      (Of course, if they don’t have economic leverage, you can feel free to make them do the monkey dance every morning with reasonable assurance that they will continue to put up with it because they have to. Which is truly a valuable thing to be adding to the world, is it not?)

      A wise person might have said “People don’t quit their jobs, they quit their managers.” I’ve noticed also that sometimes folks are quitting their work environment — as mediated, perhaps, by management.

    2. Chriama

      I agree. As an employee, how do you communicate to your manager “this is a dealbreaker” without making it seem like you’re threatening to leave (and therefore risking being pushed out earlier than intended). On the converse, as a manager, how do you truly hear your employees’ needs before they’re at the breaking point?

  13. Sidra

    Yep, places often don’t do a think to retain you until you are halfway out the door. My last workplace was like this, and my response was a polite version of “If you really wanted to keep me, this conversation would have never happened.” At the point where you’re already interviewing elsewhere, the old employer has missed the boat on making you happy and they should simply apply the lesson learned to the employees they still have.

  14. INTP

    It’s great to hear how well the new position is working out for you! So annoyingly typical that people don’t care about something you’ve made complaints about until it directly affects THEM. I had a manager like that. People complained about her bizarre policies constantly and weren’t listened to, I got the sense that she just thought we were being spoiled. Then when I candidly explained at my exit interview that specific things aren’t normal in a professional environment, and that’s why so many people leave, she acted like it was brand new information and thanked me for informing her because she had no idea.

    1. LizNYC

      In my exit interview at my last job, I called out things that I had been bringing up for years (an official freeze on wages when I knew some people were getting them, a hands-off manager who just delegated every piece of work to me and my coworkers). It wasn’t until I had one foot out the door when I heard the words, “Well, if it’s about money, I’m sure we can find you more.” Um, no thanks. I’m not going to find a new job every time I feel like I should get a raise because you guys can’t figure out that people work for money and would be expecting that in exchange for good work done throughout a year.

      1. Jim

        I would also suggest that the exit interview is maybe a *bit* late for them to try and address any issues that might have contributed to your decision to resign.

        But that’s just me.

    2. Not So NewReader

      She thanked you… did you believe her when she said she did not know these things?

      I had someone thank me once, and I felt that it was the easy-out for the conversation. Just a gut feeling thing, like she did not mean it but she knew this was the way to end the conversation.

      1. INTP

        I know for sure that she knew that people were unhappy with certain things. I think she may have been genuine in the sense that she didn’t know that they were legit things to complain about and not normal. I got the sense that she thought we were just spoiled children trying to push totally reasonable limits out of laziness. What I said during my exit interview was basically “These things are not normal in an office environment, so people are leaving to find environments where they don’t have to deal with them.” (The rules were things like, No packing up your purse before 5:00pm even if getting out the door ASAP saves you 15 minutes in the line to get on the freeway, for salaried professionals.)

        Apparently things did change after my exit. I guess no one else had been as candid in their exit interview beforehand. Normally I don’t say anything negative in an exit interview, but I got the sense that she really was just a clueless manager who wanted to do better, not someone determined to be toxic and unreasonable.

    3. Windchime

      I didn’t even bother with an exit interview. I would have just been repeating things I’d been saying all along and they didn’t care when I said them the first (or tenth time); why would they care if I said it in an exit interview? Besides, I was already mentally gone by then and I couldn’t have cared less whether or not they fixed anything. Not my problem any longer.

  15. themmases

    I’m glad this worked out! I also used to work at an urban hospital where parking was a challenge, and I can vouch that the OP’s employer did this really wrong. Shouldn’t people just park in the closest garage to their clinic, with special parking for people who are currently in on call and shuttles for people willing to park farther away? For healthcare workers many of whom work long hours, erratic on-call hours, cover multiple sites, are on their feet, etc. there is just no excuse not to have your parking assignment reflect your work assignment. I’m glad OP’s management knows why she left– maybe losing good people will prompt them to take a look at this dealbreaker of a policy.

    I know how it feels to have your heartstrings pulled at the end of a job that wasn’t working for you. My management was a mix of actively abusive and sympathetic but functionally indifferent at my old job, but on my last day tons of people wanted me to promise to come back when I finish my degree, consider freelancing for them in the meantime, can’t I go to school part time and stay part time… You name it. The OP should feel proud that she left everyone wanting more. Now she should enjoy her new job, her distance from the situation, and decide whether she would ever give it to them. :)

  16. Artemesia

    I’m delighted it worked out so well and double delighted that you didn’t get convinced to stay. People who fail to respond to an issue for 6 mos really need to learn that their employees are not drudges with no options. Hope the new position is great for you.

  17. long time reader first time poster

    I have to say, a crappy parking spot would never have been my hill to die on at a job I otherwise liked.

    But, it sounds like you have a better commute/schedule with the new job, so it sounds like it’s all worked out for the best.

    1. esra

      From her original post, it was not just a crappy spot it was downright scary. I’dve looked for something else under those circumstances.

  18. Riri

    “none of them believed me that this was a deal breaker until I’d given notice”

    So common, and so bad for business… (and often true in personal relationships too)

    Best wishes to you in the new job, OP!

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