Thursday, April 19, 2007

Reservation, please?

I got my first parking ticket yesterday. In a town where questioning authority and local goverment gets you labelled "selfish", I was at a loss as to how to deal with it. True, ten dollars isn't an astronomical amount, but... I'm getting ahead of myself.
Yesterday afternoon I went to visit a lady who lives in one of the older houses in town and take her some yarn. While we were out two weekends ago collecting signatures, she was one of the people who signed; under those circumstances, I couldn't really stand around talking about knitting, but she did reveal that she's a knitter and is interested in spinning.
I didn't intend to stay for two hours, but I did. See, the way parking works here is that the college campus is mostly metered parking. Parking on the street in the commercial district is also metered, and the price is high: A dollar for an hour, but since the meters are generally unreliable in adding up the money you put in, it sometimes ends up being more than a dollar for an hour. Parking on the streets other than in the commercial district is all Residential by Permit Only. You pay fifty dollars a month and are issued two tags for the household, and two guest tags.
When I stopped at Kathryn's, I put a dime in the meter, which was good for all of twelve minutes. When I was invited in for a cup of tea, she offered to let me use her guest parking tag. I put it in the car, but I didn't move my car to a residential space. And when I came out of the house two hours later, I had a parking ticket. Kathryn was mortified and said she'd vouch for me if I went to the station to explain things.
Well, off I went to pay my ten dollars. The dialogue went something like this:
"I take it the guest tags aren't good for metered parking."
"That's right, ma'am. The only people who don't have to pay the meters are the ones with a handicapped tag or meter permit."
"Is this something that's common knowledge?"
Girl behind counter raises her eyebrows and thinks about it for a minute. "Well, no one's questioned it."

Just because no one's questioned it doesn't mean everyone knows about it! I suggested they consider making an effort to inform people, in case someone else finds a cute little green envelope on his windshield and doesn't know why.
So I paid my ten dollars and fumed all the way home. I'd think it's obvious that you need a sticker or tag indicating that you're handicapped so you can use those reserved spaces. Oh, and get this: people who live on streets where there's only metered parking have to pay the meters if there's one in front of their residence. That's a lot of loose change from the sofa cushions, isn't it?

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