Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Search For Level Five

The Hart Shopping Centre: Empty units available at good prices
To the Hart Centre, Fleet's premier (and only) shopping destination to stock up on Scotch Egg and coconut chunks from the local Waitrose, the lunch of champions.

It is while I am there that I learn an important nugget.

"How often," I ask the cashier at the 'baskets only' checkout, stopping only to tut quietly at the woman at the next till down who has a trolley, "How often do people put their car park token in the green coin charity collection bin?"

The answer is unsurprising: "About a million times a day."

We laugh, and I almost nearly give my car park token (£8 fee if lost) to the local Multiple Sclerosis charity.

Come the apocalypse, this will be our currency
But that is not the point of this story.

It is as I wait for the lift that takes you from Waitrose to the car, that a gentleman and and his wife angle their way to the front of the queue. Some people almost nearly tut, but he looks almost exactly like Doc Brown from Back to the Future, and his wife looks like the kind of person who can brook no nonsense.

The lift arrives, we file in, and he looks querulously at the options available: Ground, Level one, Level two.

"This is stupid," he says to Mrs Brown. "Where's level five? We're on level five."

If there's one thing about the Hart Centre that everybody who brings their car to the the Hart Centre knows - and it's completely bloody obvious - is that the Hart Centre car park only has two levels, maximum headroom one metre and 96 centimetres. I point this fact out to him, and it's something he refuses to believe.

"No, I clearly remember parking on level five. We were right next to the sign."

Mrs Doc Brown agreed with him, and took the argument to the several other occupants of the lift who were also keen to point out the essential duality of car parking at the Hart Centre: For eg: level one and level two.

"What kind of stupid shopping centre makes you walk up three levels to get to the car park?" she posed, the answer being "one with only two levels", a view to which she had no truck whatsoever.

I got out at level one, and still the argument raged as the doors shut behind me, the level five deniers being told - forcefully - the error of their ways because we are parked on level five. That's FIVE, and I'll be complaining to the management.

"Don't play silly buggers with me. If I say it's on level five, it's on level five"
It was as I paid for my parking at the machine on level one of two levels, that I was struck with a theory: What if Doc Brown genuinely was a time traveller from the future, a time where the Hart Centre had expanded and had another three levels of parking added? It is entirely possible that a fictional character could travel back in time to the year 2015 and find himself confused by a car park with only two levels. Makes perfect sense, in fact.

It was as I was theorising about the infinite possibilities of quantum mechanics, that the lift door opened again, to reveal a sheepish-looking Doc and and a furious Mrs Doc Brown emerge, and walk straight to their car, which had somehow changed from being a DeLorean into a Toyota Avensis.

It was parked right under a 5mph speed limit sign.

"Great Scott!" nobody said.

Mrs Doc Brown looked positively livid, the Doc looked very small, and my laughter echoed all the way down the helter-skelter exit ramp and I nearly crashed into the barrier at the bottom, where I found myself to still be in possession of a green Waitrose coin.

What a time to be alive.

Here's your punchline. Have a nice day, now.


bin_wheelie said...

Lovely story!

TRT said...

Did you piss yourself laughing?
I would.

This is why the car park lift smells of wee.

Ernest J. Fishwinkle said...

I never ever want to go to Fleet.