We hear a lot about government services that underperform and occasionally about a state or local program that's a stroke of genius. I'd like to sing the praises for a local service provided just the way it should be. Snaps all around for BWI parking garages and its assistance and security personnel.
My colleague Ellen Perlman has already written about the terrific system the garages at Baltimore Washington International Airport use to let drivers know exactly where they can find a parking space. I used that system to great effect this past weekend. Parked and flew off to New England.
But when I flew back two days later, I got back to my car to find it dead. It would not respond to its key commands and when I finally opened the door manually, the car did not even cough and die. It was totally unresponsive.
Panic got me out of the car in search of help. And there it was just where it should be: A bright yellow sign with a red call button for car assistance. The signs were on a pillar for every row of cars. And when I pressed the red button, a pleasant voice answered, took my location and assured me assistance would be on the way shortly.
As I waited -- it was cold, it was windy, it was nightime and I was tired -- a security car came by. It was making its rounds. The driver stopped, asked if I was OK, said he'd call the car assistance people to see where they were. He then circled back to let me know the truck was on its way and would be here within a minute. The truck driver was also incredibly polite and reassuring. He jump-started my car, hung around for a minute or two to make sure everything was OK. When I asked what I owed him, he said there was no charge. I was only too glad to give him a big tip. That seemed the least I could do for the help I got -- and the calm and supportive manner of everyone in the chain of service.
So here's to BWI for figuring out how to do a very necessary job and do it well. Clearly, personnel have been trained to deal with people in panic mode -- what could be worse than being alone in a public garage at night with a car that won't start? Well, having small, hungry children with you in a cold garage late at night would be worse -- or care has been given to hiring people with reassuring personalities. Good management at work. Good people, too.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.