Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It’s all on you now

I used to work on 6th Street in Austin. It’s not as glamorous as it sounds. It’s better.

No, just kidding, it’s not better. But it certainly had its perks. Whenever I left the office late at night and wanted to go kick back and listen to some live music from a talented local band*, I was just a few blocks away from some of the most famous places in the self-proclaimed “Live Music Capital of the World.” And I didn’t even have to fight for parking. (That that, Boston!)

Ahhhhhhhhhhh, parking. The city of Austin recently started replacing perfectly good, respectable parking meters at individual spots with parking stations for whole groups of spots. You can still feed the parking station with the coins and prepaid cards that worked at the meters, OR you can now use bills or credit cards. The machine prints out a receipt that you stick to the inside of your front windshield on the curb side of the car, and then you best be on your merry**.

I love that you can pay with a credit card. I currently carry around quarters for parking and laundry, so if I ever get around to buying a washer and dryer, and assuming I never leave Austin (why would I need to?), I can stop carrying quarters altogether! Certainly, they must be a drag on my car’s mileage; I could save at least … $0.25 every year on gas alone!

I love that they increased the time limit for many spots from 2 hours to 3 hours. However, I don’t think they changed the meter-feeding law (which is really just enforced on the honor system, so far as my former co-workers who have NEVER BEEN TICKETED have informed me).

The down-side? Well, first let me ask you a question. What’s the best thing in the world that has to do with parking meters? When you get there and there’s still time on the meter! Yessssssssssssss!

Well, you can now call the city of Austin, Dr. Kill Joy. Unless you pull up as someone is leaving, and they say, “Hello good chap, here’s the 25 minutes I haven’t used yet on my sticker,” and you happen to need 24 minutes or fewer to complete your errands, then and only then do you benefit from someone else’s insufficient powers of estimation. Otherwise, you’re feeding a machine that is annoyingly obsessed with the concept of “starting … … NOW!”

I don’t think people are going to lose a lot of money on this. But this is a city of starving musicians and students. A quarter can mean a lot to a lot of people, and people without money get desperate. If you start to hear about bar fights on 6th Street over loose change on the floor, don’t say I didn’t warn you. And don’t say that the parking meters had nothing to do with it.

Just know that if I hadn’t lost my job, I might have been there, “accidentally” dropping the change.

* - I never went.
** - Firefly lingo for “go on your way.” If you didn’t know that, I don’t know why you’re reading this. Go watch Firefly!

1 comment:

  1. I just read through your ENTIRE blog and enjoyed it. Bravo! :)