Our Town: On Duty: Bettie Melvin

Madeline Gray

“I was hired to be the cashier and collect money, but I believe that God put me here to encourage people.”

–Bettie Melvin, parking attendant, Convention Center Underground Deck downtown

If you’re parking near the Marriott or Raleigh Convention Center downtown, chances are you’ll run into Bettie Melvin on your way into and out of the deck below. She’s been a friendly face there for four years, but this is just Act Two. When Melvin retired from 36 years at Kittrell Job Corps Center in Kittrell, North Carolina, she says that she needed a purpose during retirement.

After visiting a friend at the hospital, she paid for her parking and thought, “I would love to have a job like that. It looks so stress free,” she says. Her sister encouraged her to apply at McLaurin Parking and Transportation and she’s loved every moment – even when her customers are terse. “Most everyone is very friendly, but some people have bad days. You never know their story.”

When Melvin is not working downtown, which is most weekday mornings, the Vance County native focuses on being a wife, mom, and “nana” to her three grandchildren. Being a parking attendant suits Melvin, she says, because she likes meeting new people. She also feels better when she’s being useful. “It’s therapeutic to stay active and to have a reason to get up every day.”

Whether it’s a simple how are you?, asking about their kids, or wishing them a good day, she says that she enjoys chatting with regulars. She lives and works by the mottos that you never really know someone’s story, and a little kindness can go a long way.  “I consider each day as a new opportunity to do some good for somebody.” –Catherine Currin