Thriftway parking problems call for a clever plan

It has been said that every man (and I don't think I'm being sexist here) harbors within himself a secret plan to become rich that won't work. Here's mine.

Nearly my entire social life consists of trips to Thriftway. For me, that usually means, at a minimum, three visits per day. I'm there first thing in the morning to get my latte, then return at noon for my cup of soup. At the end of the day, my wife calls to say she's finally finished ploughing through her daily mountain of e-mails, and would I like to meet her at, guess where, Thriftway, so we can decide on what to get for dinner.

As a result of these multiple trips to the center of the Island universe, I am invariably flummoxed when I leave the store and try to remember where I've parked the car — what I refer to as another [insert expletive] "senior moment" or what a British friend has alternatively suggested, an "intellectural interlude." Each trip and each day, the car is in a different place. Mornings, first thing, aren't too bad because the lot isn't very full, but lunch and dinner time car searches can be trying indeed. Am I alone in this? Highly unlikely.

Now, I get my hair cut at James Hair Design. The proprietor, Jim Griswold, in addition to being a fine barber, hair stylist, blacksmith and metal craftsman, also has a bloodhound and is a dedicated volunteer with the Pierce County Sheriff's Department search and rescue team. Remember the “secret plan?” Here it comes:

I'm sitting in the chair, and the lightbulb over my head blinks on. "Jim," I say enthusiastically, "I have a [secret] plan that is going to make us rich!"

"What is it?" Jim replies, somewhat dubiously.

So I recount the misplacing-my-car-at-Thriftway situation, and then say, "You lease your bloodhound to Thriftway when you're not using her." "And," he says. "And when people like me come out of the store in a state of total befuddlement because they can't remember where the [insert expletive] car is, your dog sniffs them, heads out into the parking lot, and when it has found the car, starts in with the whole bloodhound howling thing!"

"Uh," says Jim.

"Uh, what? This is brilliant! My idea. Your dog. Nominal fee. We're going to be rich!"

"Uh," says Jim, again, "It won't work."

"Of course it will work," I reply, although my enthusiasm is rapidly waning, "Why won't it work?"

"Because once my dog has found you, it stops looking. It’s found you!"

And I even had a name picked out: Valet Barking.

— Craig Hanson is vice-president of the Vashon Island Rotary Foundation.

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