Oh Indonesia, Oh Valet

Have you been to Plaza Abda? Well then, you should. That building is amazing. It’s not a mall. It’s a complex of office building with an apartment tower behind it. They have a nice restaurant in the office building, Rice Bowl, which, when I was still working at Jakarta Stock Exchange Building, was an alternative during end of month when everyone didn’t have much money to spend. Rice Bowl is nice and incredibly cheap. But that’s not the reason why I said Plaza Abda is amazing.

The reason is…. The Security Guards.

Seriously, I’ve never met the group of security guards who have no idea what they are doing there. Obviously whoever recruited them did a wonderful job by recruiting people who only can pull off blue uniform but clueless about their responsibilities.

The first time I had… an intimate moment with them was when I was meeting Tamara for lunch. From the checkpoint I saw the restaurant at the ground floor of the apartment, and I told the security guard that I wanted to go to the restaurant, and I want to park nearby. They politely pointed the restaurant and told me just to drive in front of it and I could park nearby. Great. For the first time I’ll be ready 20 minutes before Tamara, woohoo!

In front of the restaurant, guarding the gate to the apartment, there was another security guard who did not agree with the guys at the checkpoint. I told him politely what I wanted, told him that those guys before told me that I could park here. The second guard said no, but I could park somewhere else, and he pointed to my right. So I turned back right, and…. found myself at the lobby again.

I met the first security guards, told them that the second security guards said I couldn’t park in front of the restaurant, asked me to go here but I made a round trip instead because I couldn’t park anywhere. What to do?

They insisted to go in front of the restaurant and I could park there. It happened again, stupidly, three times. I followed the instruction and was kicked from one point to another until I started loosing my patience. The second security guard finally asked,

“Where do you want to go?”
“I want to go to this restaurant!” (pointing the main door with big signage next to me), and your friends over there said I could park here. Look I’m late for my appointment, just tell me where to park and I’ll park”
“Oh you want to park? You have to go to basement.”
(Biting my lips from screaming, counting until 3), “I knowww the parking lot is in the basement, but your friends said I could park in front of the restaurant because I want to go to the restaurant.”
“Oh so you want to go to the restaurant?”
Oh God.
“Yes, but I have to park first, do I?”
“You go to basement.”
“Why did your friends tell me that I could park here?”
“Where do you want to go?”
Huh? Is this a joke? Am I in the candid camera show or something?
“Look I’m late for a meeting, the restaurant is here, just tell me where to park.”
“You can’t park here.”
“Well your friends over there said I COULD, so if I can’t, just show me the correct parking spot.”
After going back and forth talking nothing, finally he said: “You could park at the apartment parking space, go to 5th level and take elevator down to ground floor.”

I was driving up and up. G, UG, 1A, 1B…. at 1B there was a security guard who was frowning at me when I was pointing out an empty space and asked, “Can I park here instead?”
NO. These are reserved parking. Go to level 5.” He was so full of authority and looked so serious and impatient, rushing me out of his way.
Ok deh.
2, 3, 4…..5! Finally!

My phone rang. Tamara. Mrs.Never Late. Always on time.
“Dear, where are you? I’ve been here since 20 minutes ago.”
Sweats came down from my eyebrows, “Sorry Tammy, small problems with parking. But I’ve parked at 5th fl. now, coming right up.”
“OK. I’m starving.”
“Me too (and started feeling pissed off too!). Sorry, give me 5 minutes.”
Got out of the car, finding an elevator lobby, walking towards the door and…..
security access?? How can I enter the lobby if I don’t have access card? Aarrrghhh, nightmare!

I tried to push the door but it wouldn’t move. I knocked the door, hoping a security guard would appear from somewhere. But it was quiet. No one’s inside the lobby. I started looking around, perhaps the guard was walking around the car park. No sight of human being at all.

I went back to the car and getting out of the 5th floor. 4, 3, 2, 1st… Ha! A security guard! The serious, impatient, and important looking guy who told me to go to 5th.
“Pak!” I stopped in front of him. ” Your colleague downstairs told me to go to 5th floor to park, and you also told me to go to 5th, but I couldn’t open the door to the elevator lobby! Look I’m tired of being pushed around from one point to another. I want to go to the restaurant at ground floor, just tell me where I could park!”
“You can’t park here, it’s reserved parking.”
“I knowwww that, you told me already, you told me to go to 5th, but noone was there and I couldn’t get inside!”
“You have to have an access card.”
Oh sweet mama.
“I don’t hhhvaeeee an accesss cardddd…..” I muttered under my breath, tried to control my emotion.
“Well you do. Do you live in this apartment?”
NO! OK? I am a guest, I want to go to restaurant, and I’ve spent 35 minutes finding a parking spot, I’m late for a meeting, just tell me where to park or call your security manager right now! This is unbelievable!”
“If you don’t have an access card, you can’t park at 5th. You have to park at the ground floor. You take this way, go to ground floor, and they will show you where to park.” He looked annoyed with my… stupidity….

I almost bite my gearstick out of frustration….. “Look, I’m obviously stupid enough following your and your colleagues orders. Every time one person told me to go here and the next time someone else told me I couldn’t. So this would be the last time I’m asking you: WHERE DO I HAVE TO PARK?”
“You can’t park here, it’s reserved parking.”
I.KNWWWWW. THATTTTT!!!! So where?”
“Go to ground floor, they will show you where to park”
“You know what, I’m going back downstairs, but call your security manager I want to talk to him right now. You guys are wasting my time.”
So I went down back to be ground floor, and just right at the turnpoint I saw 3 security guards.
“Your colleagues said I could park here somewhere.”
“No, you can’t park here.”
“Look, I’m late for a meeting, I just want to go the restaurant, I’ve been driving around the main lobby 3 times, I went to 5th and no one there, and I went back here because everybody told me to do this but obviously I still couldn’t find a parking spot. I would not move until your manager told me where to park. Ok?”

Amazingly a guy with a plain shirt with big handy talky came over.
“Something happened?” he asked calmly. He didn’t sound panic or disturbed hearing a feisty lady screaming to his staffs in the middle of car ramp. I told him what happened.
“So you want to go to the restaurant?”
YES!! I’ve been driving past it 3 times and still couldn’t park because everyone told me different thing!”
“Well you could ask for valet parking.”
“There…. there is a valet parking?”
“Yes! Look, why don’t you move your car to this side, I’d call up the guy, he’ll park your car and you could go to the restaurant in no time. Ok?”

So that’s what happened. After 45 minutes finding a parking spot, turn out the restaurant provides a…….. VALET.

The next time I went again, and learning from my bitter experience, when in the main lobby, before the checkpoint, I told the guy, “Where’s the valet parking counter?”
They guy stared back at me, “The…. what?”
“Valet. Valet parking.”
“Do you want to park? You should go to basement.”
“No. I want someone else parked my car, so where’s the guy?”
The very young security guy looked puzzled. “You could park in the basement.”
“I know that, but there’s a valet service here, so where is he?
The security guy blinked for several times. And finally he said, “let me check it for you.”
After 3 minutes he went back outside, while I was still in my car, “We don’t have valet parking service, ibu.”
“Oh yes you do. They did it for me the last time I came here, two weeks ago.”
“You know what, forget it, I’ll ask someone else.”

So I drove past him, went into the check point and asked the guy who was checking my car, “Where’s the valet?”
“Val.. what?”
“Valet. Valet parking.”
He was shaking his head slowly.
“Last time I was here, I went to the restaurant, and there was a valet service.”
“Oh then you could go to the restaurant, probably they have it.”
Not convincing, but ok.
I drove straight up, and was stopped by another security guard.
“You can’t go straight, ibu. Make a right turn.”
“No no, your colleague back there said I could. And I want to get a valet parking. It’s at the restaurant”
“But you can’t go strait. Make a right turn.”
“But where’s the valet?”
A car behind me started honking.
“Make a right turn ibu. You’re blocking the way.”
“I am looking for a valet parking. Where is it?”
“We don’t have it”
I almost cried.
I made a right turn, and was stopped by the same guy who told me to go to 5th.
“Where’s the valet?” I asked.
“Valet parking.” I was starting to feel tired.
He was shaking his head.
“You know valet? I gave my car key to one person, he would park my car for me, and I only can go to the restaurant.”
“If you want to park your car, go to basement. Or 5th floor.”
Ha ha ha. He’s making a joke, obviously.
“No. No. Look, two weeks ago I know there was a valet parking service somewhere, but I couldn’t find the counter. Can you please ask someone who actually DOES KNOW?”

He looked at me like he was about to bite my head off, but shrugged and waved to a guy with a waiter uniform. They spoke for 30 seconds, the guy went back to the restaurant, and suddenly, a man with a red vest came up.
“Valet, ibu?”
“YES! Please.” I nearly kissed him for turning up.

So there you go. Why don’t you bring a picnic basket to Plaza Abda and have some fun with the security guards there. You could bet how long does it take for you to actually find a person who DOES KNOW what he’s doing and tells you the right thing to do.

Good luck, mate!


  1. Matambo-Neilson.com says:

    OMG, this is probably the funniest posting I have ever read! Anita, I totally sympathise with you as I’ve had many parking adventures here as well. What saves me sometimes is my diplomatic plate but oddly, some garages cater to it, others totally ignore it. Go figure!

  2. Oh man … To think that you have to go through all that trouble just for parking and the fact that those parking people surely never communicated let alone exchanged information with each other (clueless? ignorant? stupid…??) really depicted how most Indonesian service providers work.

    You can call up the Customer Services of Indosat, CitiBank or First Media, to name a few, to describe your problem and then spend the next hour repeating after the same thing to a different Customer Service officer.

    Such Irony.

  3. So, so true of Indonesia. I do like living here, but sheesh, it makes you a little crazy after awhile. I had a similar situation where I ordered a lime squash but they brought me a lemon squash. Back and forth it went for 20 minutes: “I ordered lime” “Yes, maam, this is lemon.” “But I ordered lime. I want lime.” Yes, lemon squash..” FINALLY, a manager comes over and says they are out of limes. Well why didn’t you just SAY SO!?

  4. Dean Boulding says:

    I’ve been spending a restful day looking at blogs, and remembered this post and googled for it. It’s still just about my favourite Jakarta story: I think you’ve captured beautifully the frustrations people with a clue sometimes get here. I still love it and all, but we all have these experiences.

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