Give Me the Good Old Parking Meter, Please!

You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen, it said ‘Parking Fine.’
– Tommy Cooper –

Parking Meters used to look a bit like Jelly Bean Machines.

I’ve become the family chauffeur since The Car Guy had his motorcycle accident.  I don’t mind driving, though it would be much more pleasant if all those drivers who never do a shoulder check would stop trying to occupy my car’s geographic location. Arriving safely at our destination, and finding a parking spot is always a relief.

The true challenge comes when it is time to pay for the parking. Gone are the days when I handed my ticket and money to a kindly attendant in a little booth at the exit or plugged my coins into a friendly machine that looked like it could dispense jelly beans. No, today I am faced with the pure evil of electronic ticket machines. They are the silent but efficient guardians of the place where I will abandon my vehicle in order to sit in a Doctor’s office for eternity plus a 3 minute consult.

There is no universal parking ticket machine. Each parking lot is the proud owner of a machine that was designed by someone who failed ‘your grandma might park here some day 101′. This means that each machine is unique in: the order in which you insert your ticket and credit card; the direction you insert said cards; the location where the pertinent buttons are; and the cryptic little symbols that replace a language I might understand. After three less than successful attempts to master three machines in three different lots, I figured out that the easiest way to pay the machine is to turn to the person directly behind me in line and say, “This will be much faster for both of us if you just show me how to pay this &%@#$ ticket.”

There was a time, not so many years ago, that I could board a plane in the Middle East – three layovers and 30 some hours  later, I’d be back at my Canadian home. All by myself, I could buy tickets, change planes, ride trains, even stay in a hotel.  Now I can barely negotiate a trip to the city if it means I have to park somewhere. How pathetic.

If your access to health care involves your leaving work and driving somewhere and parking and waiting for a long time, that’s not going to promote healthiness.
– Larry Page –

Post 351

29 comments

  1. This one sort of resonates. Having said that, the last time we were stymied by a parking lot ticket machine, it turned out that the ^&%$* thing was broken. Don’t get me started about the “kiosks” we have in Philly to pay for on street parking instead of meters. These also have a distressing tendency to be out of order. Actually, I don’t mind “broken” as long as there’s a sign to alert one to that fact, so one doesn’t stand there doltishly willing it to allow one to give it money! Really, it should not be so hard to give something money. If you want to give me money, tell me where to meet you. I accept cash and money orders.

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    • Very funny Suzanne!
      Yes, I have also met up with a ‘broken’ machine. It wouldn’t accept the weekly pass I had already bought, but it would accept my credit card. What a bandit!

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  2. Ha, I’ve had some trouble with a few of those machines over recent year. On a sort of different note, I was in a parking garage today, as I was leaving there was a spot where you actually had to stop the car, get out, walk to a booth and pay. Then when you drove out, someone else was a the top of the exit ramp who collected your ticket. Seemed a little redundant to me!

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        • The first year we moved to Center City Philadelphia, we paid for a parking place for our car. After the year, we realized that we hardly ever used the car, so we gave up our parking place and leave the car at the university in West Philadelphia where my husband has free parking. I love walkable cities. I’m not brave enough to bike although lots of people do even though Philadelphia streets were laid out by William Penn in 1683. For some reason, he didn’t include bike lanes 😉

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          • Reply to pouringmyartout:
            I’m not sure why West Philly is ringing a bell for you. Will Smith grew up there? University of Pennsylvania (NOT Penn State) is there?
            I’m going to be starting a “Philadelphia Phriday” feature on my blog which will be posts about my home town. Philly needs some phriends.

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    • I agree. Many years ago there was a ticket booth at the exit of the parking lot at the hospital. I couldn’t really see the ticket booth ladies face all that well, but she had long fingernails, which she painted bright colours, and decorated with dots or swirls or other little embellishments. Her hands were always a bright spot of happiness at the end of what wasn’t always a happy day at the hospital.

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  3. Nine times out of ten when I pull up to one of those parking ticket dispensers, I have to physically get out of the car to get the ticket, or at least unbuckle my seat belt to reach the thing. I will grant that a few times it might be because I didn’t pull up close enough, but I think they were designed by men with long arms.

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    • I’m careful about how close I get to one of those machines too. They seem to be designed to take your mirror off if you want to get close enough to retrieve the ticket – if you have short arms.

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    • Here in Canada, our mint is going to stop producing the penny. Prices will be rounded to the nearest nickel. I still remember penny candy, but I don’t suppose kids today have ever seen such a thing!

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  4. Automated machines work just fine as long as there is an attendant within shouting (or cursing) distance to 1) give you instructions on how to use the machine and 2) make adjustments when the machine fails to operate properly.

    But wait, why do you need an attendant if the machine is automated?

    Yeah, exactly my thought.

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    • Here in North America we blame job losses on production outsourcing to foreign countires. But how many jobs were lost when people were replaced by automated machines – bank machines, parking ticket machines, grocery store check outs? The next wave of job losses has already started – online shopping is growing, and retailers are dying.

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  5. Amen, sister. I too, must stand around until someone shows up who knows how to use the machine. I live in fear that it will eat my credit card on one of my bungling attempts to feed it and I’ll have to make another frustrating trip to the parking garage to retrieve it. Perhaps I’ll just cancel the card if that happens.

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  6. I’m generally ok with parking machines, but the automatic ticket machines at Mill Hill and Victoria sometimes take a dislike to me. They have touch screens and (according to a helpful Southern concourse manager) they sometimes don’t detect my touch because I have insufficient static energy at my fingertips. What am I supposed to do? – Get struck by lightning first so I can work the machine! I think I’ve nailed down the cause – it tends to happen when I’m wearing my North Face hiking boots. Must be something about the material they’re made from and the platform surface 😦

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