There are documentaries about anything and everything. There is a documentary about a 12-year girl who wants to make a zombie movie. Pulling John takes a look at world arm wrestling champ John Brzenk as he decides whether to defend his championship title or retire. And The Parking Lot Movie follows the parking lot attendants of the Corner Parking Lot, a small piece of land located behind some shops and bars near the University of Virginia campus. However, these documentaries are rarely about their surface subject matter. The Parking Lot Movie is about more than a parking lot.
The pool of attendants and former attendants consist of grad students, artists, musicians (including the bassist from Yo La Tengo), and post-grads not sure what to do next. They come from the philosophy, anthropology, law, and religion departments of Virginia. According to their manager, it is only a parking lot. All they have to do is take the payment from the drivers. It isn’t that simple. Day in and day out, they argue with people over a few dollars, fight against drive-offs, and protect the lot and the cars from inebriated college students. They are often called names and told to get a real job. They experience boredom, anger, and burnout.
We’ve all been there. Most of us have worked in that kind of job, where pay is low, tasks are repetitive, and your patience is tried. Although they are hard to face each day, these jobs build character and a sense of self. At least the parking lot attendants seems to see the job as important to who they are now. Because the parking lot was more to them than just a business. It was a way to reevaluate one’s self and values as one watches the problem’s of society play out on a small scale. As one attendant says, “It was a lens of looking at the entire life experience through the parking lot.”