First let me say that I hate using valet services, so much so that I have been known to street park my car just to avoid using them. Unfortunately there is one specific situation where I often have no choice. If I am running late for work then I drive to Secaucus Junction to park and take the train into the city. If you are not familiar with the parking situation at Secaucus, if you show up after about 8:15, the self-parking lot will be full, and you will have to valet. There is also exactly nowhere else to park in the area, so you are stuck using the pay lot.

So one day I am running behind, I drive to Secaucus and valet my mildly beat-up 99 V6 Camaro. I see it getting slotted in with all of the other commuters’ cars, and I move on with my day. After a full day of work, I get back to the lot to find my car no longer parked in the mass of cars, but right up front near the building where you pay and retrieve your car. Strange. I get my ticket, pay for the parking, and wait for my number to come up. After a minute, a guy comes over and asks “which car is yours?”, and I point out through the glass at my car sitting 10 feet away. “Oh, the Camaro... I think the keys are probably in it.”

I’m a little bit frustrated now. Ok, my car is a little bit trailer-park-paradise, but that doesn’t mean you should just leave it around unlocked with the keys in it in an NYC metro area parking lot. Whatever. I get in, sure enough the keys are in it. I fire it up (cold engine: it’s been sitting around with the keys in it for a while), but then I notice something: a big, greasy handprint on the inside of the passenger window. Now to understand the significance of this, you need to know some things about my car: (1) the passenger door is hard to push open (misalignment, but you get used to it), and (2) it doesn’t matter, because my wife hates my car so nobody ever rides in the passenger seat. Ever.

The most likely scenario in my mind is that a couple of the fine parking professionals there decided to take my car to lunch (probably thinking it was fast.... it’s a hugger orange Camaro on BMW style 42 17's, so it looks the part, but were disappointed by 200hp of V6 fury when they actually got out of the parking lot), and the greasy-handed passenger pushed on the window trying to get the door open. That was the last time I went there. I’d rather be late.