Our man in Miami: Retired man sweats it out as a parking attendant for $15 an hour

The level of service in the US is unprecedented, and we can learn something from the Netherlands. I gave up my resistance to it, even if it seemed artificial at times. On my way to the entrance to the Miami International Autodrome, I rediscovered how different the mood was across the ocean.

Today was one of those days when everything went against you in the beginning. Jet lag, traffic jams on Florida’s Turnpike, traffic lights turning red on the way to the circuit, people having to turn around with wrong parking tickets, and waking up with a headache and arguing with inspectors due to jet lag (again) being too short a night: such a day.

But the irritation is not over yet. The media now have to park farther (even) from the entrance than before. So the mood is not so good. But that changed immediately when I had a conversation with one of the parking attendants. The man, past retirement age, threw a half-bottle of water into his fishing hat. Otherwise, the situation here is unbearable, he said. He stands in the scorching sun all day, directing traffic in the parking lot, that’s why.

I asked what the hourly rate was for this job. Fifteen (15!) dollars, he replied. Wow, I thought, €13.50 isn’t too much. My 17-year-old daughter (a fan of Charles Leclerc and Yuki Tsunoda) told me this morning that she earns seven euros an hour for holiday work. It’s a lot less tiring than driving traffic on a dusty dirt road with thirty degrees and no shade.

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In the United States, dirty or unskilled workers are generally underpaid. Progressive Senator Bernie Sanders has been fighting for better pay for years. What always strikes me about America is that sometimes you don’t hear anyone complain about the uphill struggle to survive. Not even a parking attendant. So he smiled kindly as I proceeded to the entrance of the circuit, where I was greeted in typical American fashion: ‘Where’s your smile, my friend? Come on, show him. It is a bright day and we are going to race soon,” said the inspector. ‘May this day be sweet’.

I needed it.

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