I was sitting by the window in a restaurant on Main Street in Louisville.

There was an open space between two cars in front of the restaurant. A woman stopped next to it in an Escalade. She was going to parallel park.

I was so happy. Watching people park is city entertainment for me.

When I learned to drive, (and no, not it was not a horse and buggy), we were instructed on how to parallel park, and it was part of the driver’s test. What has happened? Is parking no longer taught? Today if you can correctly parallel park in three or four smooth moves, you deserve a trophy.

After much maneuvering and traffic blocking, she came to rest with a front wheel two feet up on the sidewalk. And that was it. With impressive composure and professional demeanor, she gathered her things from the back seat and walked across the street and into an office building.

Here’s my point: we are always “on stage” when we are in public.

A part of customer service and professional presence training is teaching us that we are always “on” and subject to being seen and evaluated by existing or potential customers, clients, or associates.

I am sure you have seen it. A person seems to be “together,”  friendly and professional but when they think they are no longer “on stage,” or when things go wrong, they lose their polished public persona.

The object of my luncheon entertainment on Main Street did not know how to park, but she held it together and did not worsen the situation by dropping her otherwise professional manner.

It reminded me of a time when I was making my way to an office to provide a CEU session. I was pulling a cart with a box of visual aids, my computer, and projector. I had failed to attach a bungee cord, and the entire load slipped off the cart onto the sidewalk in front of the windows of the office I was about to enter. The box opened and objects scattered. And it was raining.

I feel like I appeared cool and calm as I collected the items and put them back in the box and on the cart and went the last few feet into the office. I know that at least the receptionist had a clear view of my mishap, as probably did someone at lunch across the street. I looked unskilled at cart pulling, but besides that, like Ms. Parker, I did not embarrass myself, my organization or my Mother!

How about you? Can you recall a time when you surprised yourself with how well you held together as things were jumping the curb and falling apart? We deserve blue ribbons for that.

On a scale of 1 – 10, how is your parallel parking? I am a 9.5 on the right and an 8.5 on the left.

Here is how I do it:  Click Here