Ran into Steve Benjamin at breakfast this morning. He mentioned that he’s resolved to work on his penmanship after this blog shared his notes from a meeting last Friday. He also asked what I’d thought about his presentation. I told him he can’t go wrong with me talking government restructuring, but I wondered how it resonated with the voters. He said he’d been getting pretty good feedback on the overall topic. Not the “strong mayor” part, but the part where he pitches consolidation of Columbia and Richland County.
I found that interesting, but I have a burning new issue for this contest between Steve and Mayor Bob: The clock in the little guardhouse where they take your money on leaving the city parking garage at Assembly and Lady is always wrong — and always wrong in a way that favors the city’s coffers, not the driver leaving the garage.
The regular latecomers (among whom I may be counted; I’m still sort of on newspaper hours) at the place where eat breakfast most days know that when it gets past 9:30, it’s time to finish your coffee and skedaddle. Why? Because the garage, which is free in the early morning, starts charging at 10. And the latecomers tend to be retired and unemployed folk, so we don’t like coughing up that buck. (On the days that I come earlier, I park on the street and leave before 9, because that’s when Lovely Rita starts checking the meters.)
Not that I mind paying the buck occasionally. Gaming the system is one thing, but the service has to be paid for by somebody, right?
What bugs me is that the clock the garage goes by is always set several minutes ahead. I’ve had to pay at 9:57 and 9:58. I grumble, but I pay.
Today, I had a double shock. I got up from reading the paper and drinking coffee at 9:42. I was on the 6th level, so it took awhile to get to my truck and thread it down through all those levels. Then, when I got to the gate, it was down. It was only 9:51.
I asked the lady if the time for closing the gate had changed. She said it had. I asked, “What time is it now?” meaning, What’s the new deadline? She took the question both ways, answering, “It’s 9:55, and the new time is 9:30.” I double-checked: The time on my truck was still 9:51. And my truck is within a few seconds of being perfectly aligned with my Blackberry, which is perfectly synchronized with the U.S. Naval Observatory official time. At least, I think it is. Let me go check…
Oops. Somehow my phone was almost a minute behind. I’ve fixed it now. (I also checked against Zulu Time, and interestingly, the Naval Observatory time seems to be lagging by about a second. Not that I’m going to worry about it. I’m channeling Phileas Fogg enough here today…)
Still. That makes the clock in the garage three minutes fast. There was a time when there was an excuse for this — you couldn’t instantly check to see what the real, official time is. If one clock was faster than the other, you could argue which was right. No more.
I don’t mind the city moving the time to 9:30. Given the city’s fiscal problems, I’d vote to do that. In fact, I wouldn’t object it the city went to charging 24 hours. I don’t know why they don’t do that now, unless it’s just a matter of saving on personnel.
But if the understood time is 9:30, you shouldn’t get charged at 9:27. That’s all I’m saying.
See the unbelievably petty stuff that people who don’t have jobs obsess about?