Parking Meter Fun (NOT) in Downtown Providence on a Rainy Morning ~
Parking meters and me are not BFFs.
We are not even civil.
In fact, were I yielding a sledge hammer yesterday morning while trying to park in downtown Providence, I may be in jail right now.
Back story. I love cities. I love adventuring in cities. I love the history, the culture, the nooks and crannies, the backstreets and Main Streets of cities across the United States. I love shopping districts, theatre districts, ball parks and stadiums and public parks and libraries and cool little cafes and famous dining places of cities. I love the grand ethnicity of cities. I love river walks and lakeside walks and oceanfront walks of cities. I love farmlands and woodlands and mountains peeking in the distance from city streets.
I love public transits of cities.
I hate driving in cities because parking is virtually impossible. I generally find a parking garage where I have to second-mortgage my home to park overnight, or just for an hour.
Then there’s the lethal PARKING METER.
I still carry a cache of quarters in my purse, stuffed inside a little velvet case with a golden tie. Ah, the days of parking meters to whom I could bribe with my silver coins. Those days are gone with horse and buggy hitching rails, created for the convenience of customers to load their purchases or while enjoying a quick beer at the local saloon.
What demented mind invented the punishment of the parking meter, you ask? One early patent was filed in 1928 and the first installed working meter in use – Oklahoma City, July 16, 1935 – was designed by professors Holger George Thuesen and Gerald A. Hale. I’d like to Holger those two guys down and Hale a few hundred buckets of parking tickets at’em. Ha!
Anyway, parking meters, now called SMART METERS because they know how to steal your money in so many advanced technological ways, all lined up on an otherwise exciting, welcoming city streets – rigid and unyielding, disagreeable and ubiquitous – are enough to make me turn my car around and book-it to a nice little country or town road far, far away.
But yesterday, in torrential rainfall, I had to trek to downtown Providence during morning rush-hour to take care of a financial thing for my Mom. Of course, parking is crazy, and the first thing I noticed was a line of parking meters, standing erect like giant toy soldiers, each covered with a large cap indicating that those parking spaces were not available.
I drove around a corner. Then another. And another. NO PARKING anywhere and everywhere I turned.
Finally, I spotted something that looked like a short row of parking meters with no large caps rendering them incapacitated. Remember, I’m DRIVING, in city traffic, in the rain, during the morning rush, trying to read the sign next to the ONLY parking space in the entire city…
I know how to read.
I couldn’t even.
With the rain. The car honking behind me. The possibility of being late for an important appointment.
So I did what I’ve done many times before and maneuvered into the tight spot and figured I’d be out 100 cups of coffee in fines, a place I’ve been before, times when I’m just done.
Of course, I wasn’t done done. I had to read the instructions for credit card payment and all that nonsense, in the pouring rain, not really having a clue how long I’d be while taking care of some business for my Mom.
Towing my car seemed easier and more reasonable at that point.
Long story short, I didn’t get a parking ticket. I had already decided that I wouldn’t pay it anyway. I’m a rebel like that. Ha! Criminally minded me. But I’m serious. I would not have paid the fine. It’s civil disobedience to me.
What’s sad is that I love Providence. Barry and I lived in Providence – our first apartment – with such wonderful memories. We knew every inch of Fox Point and the East Side. Our daughters went to Brown University. We would meet them for breakfast, lunch, dinner all over the city. I would often stop for a cup of coffee with them on my way home from work. Barry, too.
We shopped in Providence. We went to the incredible music venues in Providence. We ran races in Providence. We attended many, many theater productions in Providence. I used to meet my dear friend, a fellow retired teacher, at our favorite little place in Providence. But one too many parking tickets has us out of the city and into a strip mall when we meet for breakfast or lunch.
My little velvet bag of silver quarters with the golden tie is now for grandkids and the claw machines in restaurants!
It’s all kinda sad, those soldiers of money collection all over this land, closing down avenues of Joy, streets lines with Potential.
But if one cannot be civil with a machine, and vice versa, it’s time to break up.
(And not with a sledge hammer!)