Friday, April 11, 2008

Expenditure and Goodwill Erosion #2

These new-fangled automated parking meters are quite efficient when they are working. In Pittsburgh, I've used these types of meters in various places and was never short-changed or maltreated.

Well, same state, different story. Not knowing yet what a pleasurable visit it was to be and having just had some police issues, yours truly was not in the most Christian of moods. Little did I know that I had to deal with the cold unforgiving nature of machinery before a night of music could begin.

Driving around the South Street area is always an opportunity for agita, of the parking variety. Well, non-parking variety, really. Special parking sticker area, limited meter area, 2 HR max area, "don't you even think about moving my garbage can reserving a street spot" area.
All of these limited areas and a very limited time to find availability forced me to drive in reverse into a questionably maintained parking lot. Luckily, I spied 3 cars in the lot of a very recent vintage, so leaving my unwashed and dinged 1999 Camry with 200k miles (a Philly visit vehicle) seemed a safe bet. The lot had no attendant but it had one of those central metering schemes which involved your punching in some info, the meter calculating your fee, your feeding in legal US Currency, and, to complete this faceless financial interaction, the meter returning the difference between the fee and your fed-in bills.
Easy enough it seemed.
$15 was calculated if you wanted to leave the car overnight.
$10, if you left by midnight.
Push the $10 choice.
Feed in a twenty.
Wait for the change to drop.
This dropped.
Then this.
Oh, then one more.
Wait. Hum. Bang.
Then, with a slight thump, a ticket to place inside my car's windshield.

So, in Philly Parking Math, $20 minus $10 equals $3, plus a very expensive blend of paper.

Needless banging of meter and muttering in choice Croatian curse words resulted in no addition to the money in hand. Looking carefully at the coins in my hand, I even doubted whether the excruciatingly shiny coinage spat out by this meter bandit was legitimate legal tender. I bit one coin and winced.

This evening was taking on the expensive tinge of those Mastercard commercials. Fun to see, lack of fun experiencing them.

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