The problem with parking violations...
I have a dear, dear friend, Bernadette. Bernadette and I met when we were each 24 years old, each pregnant and each teaching at the same school. We developed a friendship that would grow with each year, each new baby, each student we shared.
We are still best friends at 60.
Bernadette and I had such similar teaching styles and life philosophies that we did years of team teaching, Bernadette the Special Education teacher and me the English/Reading teacher. We spent hours, days, months, years and many summers planning and developing curriculum to enhance the lives of our students, most of whom were academically disadvantaged. We spent hundreds… no, thousands of minutes gobbling food at 20-minute teacher lunches, waiting for bells to ring us to our next classes.
In our lives, Bernadette and I have shared our children’s first steps, graduations, first dates and weddings. We’ve shared retirement, grandchildren, loss of parents, accomplishments, challenges, unspeakable tragedies and incredible joys.
We now get together 4 or 5 times a year, always over breakfast at a lovely, artistic little restaurant on a lovely, artistic little street in the Fox Point section of Providence, an equal distance for each of us…
We sit and talk and laugh and drink coffee and more coffee and share all the updates. We always have the same things to eat; Bern, the delectable Pumpkin Pancakes with Walnuts and Bananas, and me, the 2 Poached Eggs on English with Avacado and Walnuts on the side.
There is no more gobbling food or bells ringing us to our next classes.
Brickway On Wickenden is like being in your grandmother’s kitchen, sitting at 50’s-style vintage tables and chairs, where you’ll never get kicked out; except maybe the walls and artwork are a bit more avant garde than at Nana’s house. The waitstaff is friendly, efficient and always there with a fresh pot of coffee. There’s a calm hustle and bustle that brings together college students from Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design, high school kids, businessmen and women, politicians, Mom and babes, and old friends like Bern and me. It’s a place to meet, to enjoy delicious food and linger over old-friend conversation.
Bern and I hadn’t met since October, so we had a lot to catch up on. Like a couple of high school girls, we laughed and caught-up and passed along advice to each other as a couple of retired Grandmas!
Bern and I are at the stage where TIME both flies and stands still. This makes perfectly no sense, but it’s true; and without bells to guide our every move, we know when it’s time to go. Yesterday, we hugged good-bye… and there it was.
The orange thing. Something worse than being late for class.
The PARKING VIOLATION TICKET tucked under the windshield wiper on my car…
I looked at the TIMES on the ticket. I had parked at 9:01 and was tagged at 11:33.
My crime? I was having so much fun with my dear friend that I hadn’t looked at my watch (and there were no school bells to remind me). And hells’ bells anyway, I didn’t even remember that there were parking violations on Wickenden Street.
I looked up and down Wickenden. Hell, I could have moved my car up and down Wickenden into a dozen spots.
I remember a time, a better econonomic time, when getting a parking spot on Wickenden meant a literal drive around the block a dozen times. Barry and I have parked blocks away to get to Wickenden more times than I can count to shop Wickenden with its array of vintage clothing shops, antique stores, art galleries, curio shops, coffee places, breakfast, lunch and dinner stops and a famous hardware store.
Barry and I bought our dining room chandelier at an antique store on Wickenden. We met our daughters, Audrey and Jane, on Wickenden hundreds of times when they were students at Brown… for a quick cuppa coffee or a relaxing dinner at their favorite Thai restaurant. We still have hardware from Adler’s and artwork, salt & pepper shakers, Christmas ornaments, Depression Glass, jewelry and so much more from the little shops all along Wickenden.
Just last week, I bought my granddaughter Taylor a t-shirt from her fav little snuggery, Duck & Bunny, on Wickenden for her birthday. Taylor is celebrating her birthday there with her friends.
My late father-in-law and mother-in-law met in Fox Point and lived near Wickenden. Barry and I were married at St. Joseph Church on Hope Street, lived on Gano Street as newlyweds and loved walking along Wickenden even way back then when it wasn’t as artsy, eclectic and a preferred destination.
Wickenden is history for me. For my family. For my friendship with Bern.
Yes, I know it’s only a $20.00 parking violation for not looking at my watch or waiting for a bell. I know I’ll pay the sucker. But, I think, there’s a problem with parking violations on places like Wickenden.
What is the City of Providence going to do with my $20.00? Balance the budget? Buy new textbooks? Feed a child?
What if I decide that I don’t want to check my watch while having breakfast with a friend or lazily walking the beautiful and eclectic Wickenden with my husband? What if I take my $$$ and drive to Cranston or Warwick for breakfast, at a restaurant with a nice, big parking lot with no parking violations? Or go to a local mall, rather than shop Wickenden?
I am a criminal. I will pay my dues.
BUT there’s a back story that’s worth listening to. A history. A lesson from a gal who can’t shake the teacher in her, bells or no bells.
Oh. Just so you know, it wasn’t me who added the editorial comment to the parking sign near my car…
I haven’t stooped yet to that degree of criminality.