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Mayo employee parking video goes viral

A humorous video of a Mayo employee declaring his unbridled excitement over finally snagging a downtown parking spot after 13 years with Mayo Clinic is generating local buzz and more than a few laughs around Rochester.

Ben Thomas, 35, a Mayo anesthesiologist assistant, said he is shocked by how much local attention his video has garnered. He said he originally made it to express how excited he felt and to amuse his family and friends.

"This is amazing!" Thomas shouted in the video. "I feel rich!"

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The video generated over 121,000 views on his Facebook and over 7,000 views on his Youtube channel since it was posted last Thursday.

The response to the video has been overwhelmingly positive, he said, with many people complimenting it. He said downtown parking has becoming something of an inside joke among Mayo employees.

Shelly Bahlmann Erpelding commented on his Facebook post: "Wow! Lucky man! My hubby has been there 18 and a half years and still doesn't have it!"

Jim Sobek wrote: "After 72 years of doctoring at Mayo, I finally get to drive through two parking ramps that are full, only to find a space a half mile from my appointment. DMC issue number one is patient parking and don't let anyone tell you anything different."

He said new parking spots only rarely become available, such as when someone retires, and people need to have about 13 years with Mayo to be eligible. He said the parking spot will make a big difference for his family by giving him much more time at home instead of spending it on a shuttle.

"It feels like being in Willie Wonka. It feels like winning the Golden Ticket," Thomas said. "I get to sleep in longer and spend more time with my family. It's great!"

Thomas produces about three videos a week for his Facebook and Youtube channel . He said vlogging, or video blogging, is a hobby he has enjoyed since the mid-1990s, back when it was just sharing tapes with friends. He said his family is very supportive, sometimes even participating in a video. He said he likes the control over content video can offer compared to other forms of comedy.

His channel is a mix of vlog posts, comedy sketches and cooking videos. He has just under 300 subscribers.

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The Mayo parking video will likely end up being one of his highest-viewed videos, he said. The current most-viewed video on his channel is a music video he made utilizing a song by musician Charlie Robinson, which garnered over 286,000 views.

Break.com recently bought the rights to a video of him playing around with a megaphone for $200. He said it was the first time he has been paid for a video.

He plans to keep frequently recording videos without getting too serious.

"My goal is to make someone smile. There is a lot of negativity out there on the Internet. If just one person sees (my video) and enjoys it, I did my job," Thomas said.

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