A reserved parking spot is a perfect symbol for entitlement and self-importance. From the CEO to Madonna, no one is better than another. A few nights ago I had to take a loved one to the emergency room and something that I noticed in the parking lot got the gears in my mind turning. Anyone who has ever worked in the medical field , especially in a hospital is familiar with “medical Monday.” This very special day of the week is characterized by a major influx in visits to the hospital, particularly the emergency department. My girlfriend had a health issue arise that had to be taken care of on Monday and my parking lot experience opened my eyes to something I had to share with you.
I dropped her off at the lobby door and went to find a place to park my car. It came as no surprise that the lot was full and I had to walk a good distance back to the building. As I scanned for an empty spot, I noticed that there was a line of four or five empty spots near the ER entrance that were specifically reserved for “special” people. The closest one to the door was reserved for the CEO, despicable. I couldn’t believe what I was actually seeing. In a place where many people show up to sick or incapacitated to walk the head of the hospital gets to park right near the door. The waiting room was packed with people, yet no one parked in the reserved spot. The time was 8:00 PM and there was little doubt that the CEO was far from the property.
This blatant example of executive entitlement irritated me. Not like a mosquito jumping on me during a camping trip in late July. This level of irritation actually made my heart rate increase and my blood begin to boil. I couldn’t believe that the person who is charged with being the example to their organization is given such privilege. Now, I am not sure if this was his/her decision to have this space. Regardless, it paints a very ugly picture to a consumer and I would also believe to an employee of the organization. It got me thinking that If I was the head of such a place, I would actually ensure that no one but the patients got the closest spots. Furthermore, I believe the best leaders are those that seek to serve rather than to be served. My desire to exude that belief would motivate me to ensure that I did not have a marked parking spot. In fact, I would also make sure that I parked farther away as to allow employees and visitors easier access to the facility.
I would want my team to know that I do not view myself above anyone, but on an equal level. You may be wondering why I am making such a big deal out of this. A reserved parking spot may be a minor thing, but it points to a larger issue of perception. This creates the impression that the person in charge is superior to the rank and file. No one is superior to anyone. The people “below” that person are the reason the organization thrives or fails. The person at the top is merely a voice or face of the institution. Without the different and unique parts of the engine, it would not run. This attitude of entitlement can be seen in our government, pro sports, and how “celebrities” are viewed as well.
I had the opportunity to work for Madonna when she came to town for a concert once. Another person and I were assigned as paramedics to her and her dancers in case anything happened while they were performing. We had to arrive 6 hours before she did and were given a list of rules to follow. We were not allowed to talk to her or even make eye contact. When she did arrive to do her sound check, I was standing by the stage. She had sweat pants on and no make up. While rehearsing, I was texting on my phone when a security guard came to me and warned me to put it away or I would be told to leave. The concern was that I was taking pictures of her, which I wasn’t. Now, if she or her crew got sick or injured, my expertise would be needed. Otherwise, it was clear to me that I was nobody of significance. Needless to say, I have never wasted a moment of my time listening to her music since.
As a society, we need to recognize that each person is important, worthy, and needed. God put us all together on this planet and I doubt that he had any plans for en entitled hierarchy. While some may have high position and status, everyone puts on pants, eats, and eliminates waste the same. What are your thoughts, my friend?