11th & Harmon ramp
So you're parked in the parking ramp on South 11th Street & Harmon Place. You're not sure where the ticket attendant is, and there's a sign that reads, "All parking is automated." Panicking because you've never been to a ramp like this before, you press the big, red button for help.
Anthony Garcia comes to the rescue.
Garcia, 40, a North Minneapolis native and resident, is the security officer for Municipal Parking Incorporated. He is responsible for patrolling ramps, outside parameters and making sure people know how to pay for parking tickets at the pay station -- a two-year-old system that uses a machine and not a person.
For about 14 months, Garcia has been patrolling the 11th & Harmon ramp. He usually works the 6 a.m.-2 p.m. shift, which he said he enjoys.
"I like it here," said the officer, wearing a black hat emblazoned with the word security in large, white letters, with a color-coordinated white shirt and black pants. "Everything's nice...People always say, 'Good morning,' and 'How ya' doin'?'"
Garcia, standing next to the elevators, greeting people going in and out of the ramp, said the most challenging part of his job comes when people park for events. Because customers must pay for parking tickets up-front and exit within 15 minutes of the time they purchased, sometimes time expires and they get upset.
He also said he has to make sure that people in alleyways -- which, between 11th and 12th streets, are part of his regular patrolling areas -- are acting within the law, such as not urinating in public.
He said helping people is one of the most gratifying parts of his job. About once or twice a week, he has to help someone who is short various amounts of change. Sometimes he scrapes change from his pocket, like the nickel he had in his pocket when I interviewed him. Other times, he has to go find change elsewhere.
"It makes me happy to make other people happy," said Garcia, who was a cab driver before he started working for the parking company three years ago. "I like to give."