Lessons From A Parking Attendant

Adrian Padina
3 min readAug 3, 2019

An example of great service and entrepreneurship.

Photo by Raban Haaijk on Unsplash

A few years ago and in the space of a few hours, I witnessed two restaurant employees fail at basic customer service with a subsequent loss of earnings, and witnessed an example of clever entrepreneurship from an unofficial car park attendant.

I was in Marbella, southern Spain, and stopped at a popular beach restaurant for a drink and a tapa before lunch. “Sorry Sir, but we only serve ‘rations’ [large portions usually served for 4+ persons] at this hour” . I asked my server to make an exception, that the restaurant was empty, I was on my own and I only wanted a tapa, to be told that “no-can-do”. So, I had my drink and left, not eating anything (loss of revenue for an empty restaurant) and vowing not to return.

An hour or so later and it was time to eat. I stopped at another restaurant and ordered croquettes for starters. I was told that there were six to a portion, all the same. Upon seeing that there were three different types of croquettes and that they were all priced exactly the same, I asked for two of each. Nope, impossible. Why? They cannot be mixed, I would have to ask for three portions, or eighteen croquettes! I was hungry so I didn’t leave and ordered the one portion, but again, the restaurant was empty so the kitchen was hardly under pressure.

When I returned to my car I saw that someone had strangely placed a sun reflector on the outside of the windscreen. I looked around and saw a Moroccan in his 60’s approach me with a genuine smile. He was one of those unofficial car park attendants that wear reflective jackets to make themselves look official and help you park in return for a small tip. Well this guy had gone a stage further.

“Hey, with this sun I thought that your car would be too hot on your return and needed protection from the heat”.

Obviously he was after a tip which I gladly gave him after he collected his reflector, but how clever of him! His statement indicated that he had my interests in mind and I appreciated not having to get into an oven.

Now, I’m convinced that had this attendant served me in one of the restaurants I mention above, he would have seen to it that I received my tapa and that I had my mix of croquettes.

Adrian Padina

Master hotelier who writes and photographs. Take a peek inside my world.