This morning, I was in Schenectady on some personal business. There are plenty of parking meters in front of the municipal building in Schenectady, and normally I could put in 25c and get half an hour of parking time, which would have been more than enough for me.
Today, I noticed that the City of Schenectady added some new parking meters. And this time, the meters only provide 15 minutes of parking for a quarter’s payment. Crumbs. Okay, gotta fish in the car for another quarter for the meter… 50 cents in the meter, done. Off to take care of business.
A while later, I headed back to my car. Oh look, there’s a parking enforcement officer. I should ask him about why the parking rate increased on these meters.
I slowly walked up to the man. He was already writing a ticket. And he looked at me with anger in his eyes.
“So I have a question – ”
“You gotta put money in the meter,” he snarled. “That meter is expired. See? That red mark on the meter means that you didn’t put enough money in. And something else,” he growled.
He pointed at the inspection sticker. “Do you know what month it is?”
“It’s August,” I replied.
“And what year it is?”
“Right, and this sticker says December of 2014. Don’t you know how to use a calendar?”
“I wasn’t going to give you a ticket for the parking meter, but I AM going to give you one for a lapsed inspection sticker. What do you have to say about that? You think you’re all so smart and what, you think you’re immune to parking rules and regulations? What could you possibly say to me about this? I’ve got you dead to rights, son!”
I looked at the inspection sticker. Yep. December 2014. Johnny Badge had it right down the middle. No way to argue out of this one. That car’s inspection is nine months past due.
At which point, I looked at the parking enforcement officer and said the four words that immediately exonerated me from any tickets or fines.
Those four words?
“This isn’t my car.”
And at that instant, I explained that my car – a jet-black 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt SS – was five parking spots away, and that all I wanted to know was why the parking meters were now charging more money for fewer minutes. That, and I wouldn’t be caught DEAD driving that ugly looking rust-bodied clown car that was so richly deserving of a parking ticket.
Immediately the parking enforcement officer laughed and apologized. He explained that the city had to put new meters in, because the vagrants were busting into the old meters at night and ripping out the quarters. He never explained the new meter rate, but at least he and I had a good laugh about the whole situation.
And as I returned to my car, I checked the parking meter. 3 minutes of paid time left.
Good. Made it back to the Blackbird with three minutes to spare.
And as I drove away, I thought about whether I should have egged the parking enforcement officer on further. Maybe I should have argued with him about the car’s bald tires. That, or the strip of duct tape that was keeping the driver’s side mirror fastened.
Nah. There’s already fun to be had. And the whole event did make me smile a bit on what was otherwise a rather blah day.