Parking patrol

Tom Rinker

Photo By Tom Gascoyne

Tom Rinker, parking lot security at the downtown Bank of America, spends his working day on his feet, on a sea of blacktop, making sure the people who park there have some kind of business with the bank. Rinker, a transplant from the coast, actually works for a company called Standard Parking. He’s a friendly, reasonable man (he says he likes this paper), just doing his job.

How long you been doing this?

About eight months now. Since January.

How do you like it?

Oh, it’s OK. It gets hectic sometimes with people coming in from both ends here and trying to park and run off and not do any bank business.

What’s the most common way? Do people just try to disappear into the bank?

Oh that’s one way. They’ll hit the ATM maybe and then go in the door there and go out the front door. We can’t do anything about that. I try to identify the vehicle with the drivers and I see how long they’ve been parked here. If they’ve been here for more than say 20 minutes or so, then I’ll walk into the bank there and see if they are still in there. If they’re not, then I just sort of wait until they come back. If they don’t come back after a while, then I’ll leave them one of these [shows a clipboard with a yellow citation sheet]. It’s just a warning sticker, it’s not a ticket.

Can you issue a ticket? What kind of steps can you take?

No. All I can do is—actually what the policy is here is, you give them a warning; if they do it a second time, then it’s up to the bank manager to decide whether they should tow the car. In eight months we haven’t towed one car, although there have been some close calls. Usually on a holiday weekend kids will park here and take off to go somewhere else.

Do people ever act hostile toward you?

You know, it’s that 10 percent. Ninety percent of people, if you approach them right and be courteous, they understand. The thing is most of them are bank customers. They think after they’ve done their banking they can go off and do something else. That’s not what the manager wants. He wants the parking lot available for customers coming in.

Have any previous law enforcement experience?

No. I was a letter carrier for 30-some years. So in that respect I have dealt with the public.

Where do you bank?

Well, actually I don’t bank here. I bank at Washington Mutual [laughs].