Saturday, April 14, 2012

Annual Burbank On Parade -- a small business person's strategy

I think I've made it clear in prior posts, here and on Facebook. I love Burbank.

Sometimes, though, I can become unsettled when outside circumstances upend my routine. Like this annual parade, which took place today. There was an unexpectedly positive outcome, though.

On Saturdays, I usually go to the market very early, and then have some downtime until my workday begins officially at 1 PM. It's a straight 2.2-mile route from home to my office; if my car were equipped with the technology, it could almost find its own way to and from work.

When I saw the digital advisory signs along Olive recently -- "Olive Avenue closed 4-14-12 6 AM to 2 PM" -- my reaction was something that needs to be edited, for the sake of decency. The detour on the side streets becomes rather labyrinthine, meaning that I have to call each client to advise them of access and parking challenges. Some might be put off by this, I feared, and would cancel for the day. Last year was my first spring at this office, and I was caught unprepared, having to walk two or three blocks juggling my briefcase and paraphernalia. Oh, to be torn between civic pride and concern for one's business!

Hmm...what to do?

So, this AM, I was up at 4:45 AM, preparing breakfast, lunch, and supper for Mom in her insulated bag and thermos. Tiggy was fed and petted. By 5:35 AM, I was out of the garage, flying down East Olive and over the bridge. Lines of traffic barricades were already showing themselves, as I imagined myself speeding to the music of Back to the Future, at the wheel of the Delorean instead of my Ford.

I made it!

I found my favorite parking spot, unloaded my gear, and set up base camp in my office. Work files, a stack of magazine back issues, my Stanley coffee tankard...all I would need to be productive. In the pre-dawn, I rounded the corner, and saw even the parking lots of local businesses were already blocked.

Settling in at Tallyrand for breakfast, I was halfway through my eggs and potatoes when the server asked if I was with the parade committee. When I said no, she said I shouldn't "be in this area, because it was reserved." Really? No sign had been posted to that effect. I was a paying customer, taking up one body-space, and bothering no one.

I finished, left, and embarked on a rare walkabout, up and down a street I've known so well, at least from the car. For the first time, I caught the end of an 8 AM mass at St. Finbar's, finding the inner architecture stunning and comforting. Further along my trek, several people stopped me, asking, "What the hell's going on?" Like me the prior year, they apparently hadn't gotten the word about the parade. I took photos of a 1949 Burbank police squad car, got a jelly doughnut and McDonald's Shamrock Shake (a radical departure from my diet!), and took a circuitous route back to the office. Gotta walk off those calories, after all.

I kept checking my voice mail obsessively, and so far no one had cancelled. The doughnut and milk shake were beginning to act up in my stomach (served me right, I guess), and the time for the parade was drawing near. Time for more activity.

The parade route couldn't have been more handy -- right outside my door. It happened so fast -- the helicopter fly-bys, the bands, the vintage vehicles and costumes -- all just swept me away from my previous feelings of being put-upon. I found myself waving and laughing, like a kid, relaxed.

Then I saw fellow BHS alumnus Roberta Grande Reynolds, riding past in a school board vehicle. And I was so proud!

When 12:30 came around, the parade was over. I found myself surprised at my feelings of let-down and wistfulness, kind of like when a Christmas comes and goes by too fast.

And so, the Saturday proceeded pretty much like any other. Only better. What did I have to complain about?
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