Parking valets get a bad rap. There’s the image of handing your car keys over to a total stranger, who then takes your wheels for a joyride or maybe goes riffling through your glove box for spare change. But there are the fly-by-night valets who sure, might ding your car or do hijinks behind the wheel, and there are valets like Meraldo Lizardo of BMW of Boston, who is prized by customers for his service and reliability. Lizardo is lot manager of the Hub dealership, where he helps with the logistics of juggling over 100 vehicle appointments a day, squeezing expensive German automobiles into a tight urban parking lot where space is at a premium. Lizardo admits that valets are at the bottom of the vehicle food chain, so to speak, but he prides himself in his work and the 18 other valets that he manages. Lizardo spoke to Globe correspondent Cindy Atoji Keene about this underrated but important service job.
“I came from Dominican Republic, and I’ve done all kinds of work. I always dreamed about working in a dealership and also owning a brand new car with no mileage. When I first started here, I took the wheel of a car with a start button and a tiptronic shifter (it offers manual override for an automatic) and got really nervous, because it was my first time seeing that. But now I drive all sorts of sedans, coupes, sports cars, and SUVs, and consider myself a pro. These include brand new cars that just came off the showroom. I love BMWs – they are very high performance in the way they are handle, especially the sports plus, which takes off really fast. On a typical day, we have are juggling over 120-130 cars or more that are here for repair and maintenance. We need to keep them moving and ensure that the technicians can start working on the car. I do a weekly inventory of cars in the garage, which holds about 150 cars, and if I see a car that has been here for a while, I’ll ask an advisor why it’s been parked for so long. Usually it because the shop is ordering parts from Germany or the customer is not responding to our calls to pick up the vehicle. I appreciate the warmer weather when there is no snow, because last winter it was brutal. Every day or night we had to remove all the cars from the lot and plow, moving them onto the lifts or even pushing them inside if they don’t run. The valets are also responsible for shoveling and salting the front entrance and around the building. So we keep very busy, making sure the facility is safe. And occasionally I see celebrity clients, including a Bruins hockey players or a pitcher for the Red Sox. He needed to get some baseball gloves out of his vehicle, so we walked together to grab the stuff. And as far as my dream of having a new car, right now I’m driving a blue 3 Series model. It’s a beautiful car.