Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Economies of a smaller scale

I headed up to the Des Moines Airport (officially "international" is sandwiched between "Moines" and "Airport," but that seems a little affected) yesterday to have lunch with my cousin, Gordon (left), an engineer who had flown in from Fort Worth to consult with airport officials about one of their air traffic control issues. This involves on-the-ground inspection of devices out along the runways, preferably on a dry day --- and Monday wasn't. It rained buckets again, so I'm not sure how the mission worked out.

But we had a great visit, a good lunch (at Skip's, north up Fleur Drive) and it was more than worth the short drive into the big and dangerous city, a drive that's a lot simpler than it used to be.

South Iowans have always had an airport advantage because Des Moines "International" is located on the south side and a lot of money, concrete and former wildlife habitat have been invested during the last few years in making our approach even more of a breeze. Just turn left onto the southern bypass north of Indianola, then right a couple of minutes later onto Fleur Drive and in another minute or so you're there. I haven't had to drive west on Army Post Road (the old approach) for so long I've forgotten what it looks like.

And I like the Des Moines Airport, mostly because it's compact and convenient. It's possible to say to someone on the phone, "yea, I'll meet you in the terminal" and then actually be able to find each other without further details --- providing you know what the other guy looks like or have pre-arranged to wear red carnations.

Black clouds were rolling in as I turned onto the bypass, big drops of rain were falling and the wind was coming up headed north on Fleur and I'd just managed to grab my parking ticket and drive under the sheltering roof of the ramp when the sky opened. But up a level to the skywalk then down onto the main floor of the terminal --- and there was Gordon. We repeated the high-and-dry process before driving away to lunch. Who could have asked for more? There's a lot to be said for sensible scale.


The Indianola Walmart was another matter, however. Now I'm neither a friend nor an enemy of Walmart --- I just don't shop there very often. But I'd been ordered to find a specific type of planter not available in Chariton and wanted to look myself for a variety of ink cartridge not available here either. So I stopped.

Walmart has changed within the last few years, and that's a little unnerving. It seems to me there's a lot less merchandise than there used to be --- and what's there is more widely spread. Since fewer people were around on a Monday afternoon, too, it was kind of lonely and a little spooky --- as if a going-out-of-business sale were in the offing or the Rapture had actually come a couple of weeks ago, but only WalMart shoppers had been swept up to heaven.

Office supplies had moved within the last year, I found after arriving in what I thought was the right place and finding several aisles of scrapbooking supplies (does it really take that much stuff to make a scrapbook?). A helpful associate pointed me to the other end of the building, where office supplies now were located. They had a gazillion varieties of "BIC," but none of the alternate variety of cartridge --- just a cartridge, not a pen --- that I wanted.

Since I was in the neighborhood, took a sidetrip into the DVDs thinking I might find something cheap to take home and watch. Nothing.

Then to the garden center. Nothing that even resembled the type of planter that I'd been ordered to find.

So I came on home --- to the land of angle parking.


It is written somewhere in the Bible that mankind is intended to park at an angle, in a space so spacious that once you've driven into it you're able to exit the vehicle without inhaling, holding your breath and squeezing out a cracked door sideways. There are plenty of those parking spaces available in Chariton --- and in the Walmart parking lot, too, for that matter.

But in Des Moines, including the Airport ramp, where engineers have carefully considered the economies of scale, parking spaces are narrower and the lines zealously aligned at 90 degrees. It usually takes me a couple of tries and a little backing and rearranging to center the truck perfectly between the lines in that narrower space. I resent it.

Back home in Chariton, I pulled into a generous angled space in the HyVee parking lot and relaxed. Home safe from the big city again and parked the way God intended.


Ed said...

I've eaten at Skip's a time or two but haven't had good luck with the main meal. I have had very good luck with their key lime pie.

I love the Des Moines airport, second to my favorite over in Rock Island. We flew out to California a couple months ago and I used the long term parking lot for the first time. On my way in, the shuttle bus was right there waiting and I wasn't focused on the distance. However on arrival back to Iowa, we waited fifteen minutes for the shuttle to arrive to take us out to the parking lot and only when we arrived there did I realize I could have walked it easily in five had I realized how close it actually way.

Anonymous said...

"Size does matter"