So, yes. I haven’t posted since New Years and now I’m here just to complain.
My last post was full of happy, grateful gushing about what a great year 2011 was. So let’s balance that out, shall we?
Today I would like to talk about parking.
A few weeks ago, Trevor and I were driving to meet some friends at the opening of a piano bar in Lodo. Lodo is a neighborhood in Denver that I don’t spend much time in. On this particular night, I discovered why.
This piano bar grand opening was a ticketed event. We’d RSVP’d weeks in advance and got free tickets that promised us free entry into the piano bar, free drinks and free food. It seemed too good to be true! Turned out it was.
While driving there, we circled the block several times looking for a meter we could park at. We had a couple of close calls, but each time by the time we had circled back around, someone else had claimed the spot. That meant our only option was to park in the parking lot directly in front of the piano bar. A lot you had to pay $10 to park in.
As we pull in, we see there is a super-long line in front of the piano bar. This pisses me off. I had hoped it was some sort of closed event with a limited guest list. Turns out we’d have to fight off a crowd for our free food and booze. So, in kind of a hurry now, we park the car and search frantically for the place we pay. In this GIANT parking lot, there is ONE pay station in a corner. So we walk from our car, to the corner where there is a line because it is the absolute SLOWEST THING IN THE WORLD. We seriously waited 15 minutes for four other people to pay for parking. Meanwhile, the line in front of the piano bar is growing and growing and I visualize our free booze and food dwindling down to a meager supply. Then, we have to print a ticket, and take it BACK to the car! Worst. System. Ever. Or, so I thought…until my experience on Tuesday.
I think I’ve mentioned that I volunteer as a court appointed special advocate (CASA). On Tuesday, I had to attend a very important hearing, probably the most important hearing in the case. It was so important that I was actually sent a subpoena which began like this, “WE COMMAND YOU…” In short, I was commanded to appear at this hearing.
Also that day, we had a very important meeting at work. Our biggest and most important client was coming to our office to listen to us tell them why they should keep giving us their business. Everyone had to be at work early for their arrival, and then I had to be part of a presentation after I got back from court. My plan was to leave for court at 8:30am and be back in time to present at 10:45am (court was at 9.)
Of course, things got delayed and I wasn’t able to leave the office until 8:39am. I had just enough time to make it if I parked in the justice center garage (more expensive) instead of looking for a spot on the street. That’s what I usually do. But when I arrived at the entrance of the justice center parking lot, with only moments to spare, there was a sign that said, “LOT TEMPORARILY FULL.” Shocked, angered, and dismayed, I had no idea what to do. No meters were open. I circled the block and noticed there were two surface parking lots with spots available. Both more expensive than the justice center, but who cared at this point?
The one to my right was nearly full and had a long line of people waiting to pay.
The one to my left had many spots available and no line. I parked to the left.
I glance around as I pull in for an assigned number of the spot I’m pulling into. I don’t see one. I proceed to the pay station pull out my credit card and attempt to pay with it. The credit card swiper is covered with plastic. Although I see the parking lot sign has a Visa and Mastercard symbol on it. I remember I have some cash. This lot does not accept $20 bills, which is all I have. At this point, I am late. Then I notice a sign that says you can pay by phone to park in the lot. I hastily call the number. A computer voice answers and gives me a loooong introduction. Then asks me to state my license plate number.
“867 YBA,” I say.
“867 YVA,” It repeats. “Is this correct?”
“No.” I say.
“Try again,” it tells me.
“867 YBA,” I say, being sure to enunciate.
“867 YVA,” It repeats. “Is this correct?”
“No.” I say.
“Let’s go letter by letter.” It says.
“8. Is that correct?”
“Six. Is that correct?”
And on and on it goes until we get all the correct letters. The machine has finally repeated back to me the correct license plate number when it says, “I’m sorry, I’m having trouble processing your request. Please hold while I connect you with an operator.”
At this point I am walking toward the courthouse and will momentarily be faced with going through security. I don’t think you can be on your phone in security.
After a brief hold, I’m connected to some dude who asks for my license plate number, then for the lot ID number I’m parked in. Then he gets my credit card details, and I think I’m home free (just late) when he asks for the number of the spot I’m parked in.
“There wasn’t a number.” I say.
“There has to be a number,” he tells me. “That’s how the system works in Denver.”
“I’m not by my car right now,” I say. “I am in a hurry. But I did look for a spot number when I was parking and there wasn’t one.”
“Well, I can’t let you pay for the spot if I don’t have a spot number. They won’t know that you paid.”
“Really?” I say. “They have my license plate number and the lot I’m parked in.”
“They will look at the spot and then look at your license plate to make sure you paid for that spot.” He says.
Annoyed, exasperated, and pretty late at this point I say, “Well, I don’t know the spot number so I guess I’m just going to have to get a ticket or something. I have to go now.”
“Ok. Can I help you with anything else today?” He asks.
“No, but how about some feedback?” I offer. “This is the worst way to pay for parking ever. This is a very inefficient system.”
“We don’t own the lot, ma’am.” He explains. “We just contract this service. But I can give you the phone number of the lot owners.” At this point I am right outside the courthouse.
“I have to go.” I say and hang up.
I arrive late, but as it usually goes at court, our turn hasn’t come yet. In fact, I think I waited over a half an hour before they finally called us. The hearing went well, and was relatively quick. I arrived back at my car and there was no ticket (and no spot number, I double checked that.) I made it back in time for my work presentation, which also went well.
Remind me to check my credit card bill for fraudulent charges.