I hate ’em.
I try, I really do try (as hard as Billy Jack tried to be nonviolent) to pay for my parking on city streets. I carry a Smart Card and top it up when it runs out. If I think I’m going to be an hour, I pay for an hour and 20 minutes in advance. I really try. Because I don’t mind leaving some time on the meter for the next person. I just hate getting a ticket.
So something like this really ticks me off…
I arrive today at Immaculate Consumption for an interview with Hogan Gidley, senior communications advisor to Mike Huckabee. There’s not a single available parking space on that block, either wide of Main Street. But look! Somebody’s moving out!
And when the vehicle is out of the way, I see that the space has a red meter. You know, one of the ones at which you can only pay for 30 minutes.
Having no choice, I took it, and said to myself, Self, I really hope you can remember to come back out here and stick your card in again after 29 minutes.
But of course, being me, despite the best will in the world, I had forgotten this by the time I got to the counter and ordered my coffee. And if I had remembered it that long, I’d have forgotten it when I spilled my coffee taking it off the counter because I didn’t realize there was a little curb on the edge of the counter that I had to lift it over. And if I had still remembered it then, I would have forgotten it by the time I sat down and started talking politics with Hogan.
I would have forgotten it because that is what I do. I wish I didn’t do that, but I always do. It’s the way I’m made. Yeah, I could have paused to set myself a little alarm, except that my appointment had arrived before me and I didn’t want to stand there fooling with my phone before speaking to him, and once I started talking I’d have forgotten to set the alarm anyway, because that is what I do.
Of course, when I came out, I had a ticket. And what really gets me is that I’m pretty sure we had not talked for much more than 30 minutes. Way under an hour, anyway.
Now here’s the thing: I wanted to pay for an hour just in case, but I could not. It was physically impossible.
And this is not right. This is not fair.
And what I’d like to know is, why do red parking meters exist? Why can’t all parking meters be not merely green, but blue, so we could pay in advance for hours at a time is that’s what we want to do?
I’m thinking your answer might be something like, to keep customers turning over. In this case, to prevent the problem common to coffee houses of people coming in with a laptop, buying one cup of coffee, and sitting there all day.
OK, so if that is the case, why is there only one red meter on the block? That’s the way it always is. And time and again, that’s the only space that’s available — not because the 30-minute limit keeps it turning over, but because nobody wants to park in that space! It’s the short straw of parking spaces. It’s the Old Maid card! It’s snake eyes! Nobody wants it!
So why even waste a space by putting a red meter there?
I want an answer from y’all, but you can probably tell that whatever you say, it won’t satisfy me. Because whatever good they do, I will be convinced that it is not worth the gross unfairness of the situation.
Oh, as for what Hogan Gidley and I talked about — I’ll tell you later, This was more urgent…