the parking lot chap and the five year old IT expert


Last week I returned from a trip out-of-country to a comedic reception at the Entebbe Airport Long-Term Parking Terminal.

I found myself starring in a comedy of errors so deep that I suspected someone had paid actors to stage it. For a panicky while after I got there, the chaps managing the parking system couldn’t find my receipt and therefore car keys. Eventually, though, we discovered them after working out that the fellow who had taken my keys on the morning I left had registered HIS name on the system instead of mine.

Too tired to properly psycho-analyse him in front of his colleagues, and eager to get to a dinner arrangement in Kampala, I politely swept up my keys and walked over to where I had parked – in the furthermost corner of the parking lot.

There, I found that a vehicle had been parked right behind mine and was blocking my exit. I could not understand how this had escaped the notice of the parking lot attendants, since my car was not the common type, or why they had let me walk all this way with my luggage without even a word of warning.

I stood there amazed that they hadn’t followed me all this way to unblock the car, and noticed that a colleague of mine was also having a bit of a struggle. So I went over to see if I could be of help.

His car, not blocked by any other, had refused to respond to his key remote fob. It was clear to me that his car battery was dead, but to confirm this we had to go through a couple of hours filled with high-level comedy during which ‘the man with the key went’ and someone else even licked a dry cell to test whether it was functional.

In the background of the comic action, I caught a story over my car radio that slapped me with irony.

It was about a five-year old child called Ayan Qureshi, who is now the world’s youngest Microsoft Certified Professional.

Microsoft IT certification has not become any easier – this five-year old child just knows his computers so well that he passed the IT Exam.

As the BBC people marvelled over this computer-savvy toddler, we discovered in the parking lot that the reason my colleague’s car battery had run out was whoever parked it had left the interior lights on for four days or so. You would imagine that a fellow working at a parking lot would know this basic rule of car management, even if he didn’t stand any mental risk of earning Microsoft IT Certification as a young child.

To make matters worse, when we finally got the bonnet open, one of the parking lot employees exclaimed that he had been right all along because when my colleague was parking his car there had been someone else there whose vehicle had suffered a similar mishap.

“Don’t you remember that guy you found here? It was the same problem…!” the chap said with misplaced triumph in his voice.

So I chose not to be unfair to the fellows in that parking lot by comparing them to young Ayan Qureshi, since not every five-year old in the UK is like him anyway; especially after I heard him say, over the radio, “My plan is to set up an e-valley in London…”

It would be grossly unfair, I reasoned, to compare these parking lot attendants who had so little of a plan for managing their few square metres of space that they could register you wrongly, block you in by parking awkwardly, and then allow your battery to run out by simply forgetting to flick a light switch off.

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