Things are not quite the same around the Blue Mall in South Miami without the familiar face and quick wit of Valerie Fox. Although Fox’s official job has been as parking attendant for the past 17 years, she has also served as the area’s security guard, information booth and voice of reason.
Fox was recently diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma and is taking time off to heal and rest after surgery. She said that she misses her job, maybe as much as the SoMi merchants and patrons miss her.
“I love this mall and I love my job,” said Fox. “I’ve gotten to know the people who frequent the Blue Mall and I helped them find a parking spot even if my lot was full. I call this the Mom’s Mall. I often saw some moms three times a day. They came for morning coffee, lunch and then again after school with their kids.”
Fox said that good ole’ fashion com-munication has been the key to her relationships with the Blue Mall merchants and patrons. And Fox always tells it like it is. “I have seen it all and I could write a book about life at the Blue Mall with no name,” she said. And oh, the stories she could tell.
She’s taught many parents an important lesson – never leave your children or pets in the car. “When they did, I would go into the store after them and announce that someone is trying to take their car with the kids in it,” she chuckled. “They were mortified. Alittle humiliation goes a long way.”
Fox has had celebrities ask her for directions or park in her lot, including Queen Latifah, Enrique Iglesias, Martin Short and local personalities like Lynn Martinez, Dwight Lauderdale, Tracey and Alonzo Mourning, Glenn Rice and more.
She’s helped apprehend thieves, thus living up to the wording on her familiar security T-shirt and cap she donned each day; except for the times she would wear the T-shirt given to her by friends that said, “Parking Bitch – I Tow.” “When I wore this shirt, people would honk and wave and even stop to take a picture,” Fox said.
Fox’s mother asked her why after all these years she hasn’t met a nice man in the Blue Mall parking lot. Fox’s response: “They’re all trying to run me over!”
Fox was born in Doctors Hospital on St. Patrick’s Day in 1954, and has celebrated every birthday with a green cake. She attended Sunset Elementary, Ponce de Leon Middle School and Coral Gables High School. She worked at other familiar South Miami establishments, such as Little Finicky’s Diner and Sunset Drug Store, before becoming the parking attendant at Blue Mall in 1994. She lives in High Pines and rode her bike to work every day.
As Fox rests and recovers, she is grateful for all of the support from her friends – her guardian angels as she calls them – who have visited her, brought food, delivered flowers and taken her to lunch.
Owner of the Blue Mall, Andrew Hessen, has told Fox that her job will always be there for her. Fox is grateful to friend Jenny Trujillo from Eye Care Optical Center who sat with her for hours at the hospital. While recuperating at home, Pascal and friends from Le Royal French Bakery have brought her French bread and coffee and Virginia Guanchez and the crew from Mojito Grill have delivered lunch to her each day. Now, when you see Fox in SoMi, she is visiting the merchants and enjoying lunch with dear friends such as Rossina Vilasuso from Marisol’s Boutique.
“All of the support has brought tears to my eyes,” said Fox. “I’m so grateful to everyone who has reached out to me and helped me through this storm.
Because Fox has no medical insurance, merchants, patrons and friends have established a fund to help her with her medical bills. To make a donation, visit Mojito Grill at the Blue Mall or Turnberry Bank in South Miami.