Alex and I met his brother downtown last week for a lunch. Eugene has recently started a very cool internship for an international political and economical consulting firm. Sounds cool, huh? Anywho, we lucked into a metered parking spot only a block from the Quizno's, and as luck would have it, it still had 30 minutes left! We were basking in the awesomeness of our good fortune when we passed a large van on the other side of the street whose meter was blinking an angry red "Expired." We already had the change on hand from what we were going to put into our meter, so I realized this was the perfect opportunity to help someone out and cross this task off the list. What's more, the van had a handicapped parking rear-view-window-hanging-thing. Not only was I going to help someone, I was going to help someone who probably needed it more than others! I dropped a quarter into the slot and was prepared to feel proud of myself.
Nothing happened. The meter still impatiently insisted it was "Expired." Dang it! I had another quarter on me, and $.50 was nothing compared to the satisfaction I would feel saving a handicapped driver from a stiff parking ticket, the cruel exaction of a heartless officer. I dropped the second quarter into the slot and saw the display flash to 15 minutes. Surely that would be enough time for the driver to get back to their vehicle! In the world of parking tickets, where $150 can be decided by mere seconds, 15 minutes was an eternity. Feeling elated that I had saved someone from an afternoon ruined by a ticket, we sauntered down to the Quizno's and thoroughly enjoyed our lunch.
45 minutes later, as we strolled back to our car, I saw that the van was still parked in the same spot, and the angry "Expired" flashing notice had returned. I was out of change, and my good mood at saving someone from a parking ticket was depleted with every red flash. Geez, didn't these people realize that meters expire??? Clearly they weren't all that concerned about getting back to their spot, and there were no ticketing agents in sight. I decided they'd be fine, with or without me dropping any more change into their meter (if I had had any, that is).
So, my $.50 was sacrificed to the meter with no good to show for it. I didn't save the driver from a ticket, giving him just enough of a window to get back to his van and leave before his expired meter was discovered. Maybe I'll try this one again in the future and hope for a more effective outcome.
On the other hand, maybe a ticketing officer drove by in those 15 minutes of safety, while Alex and Eugene and I were blissfully munching our sandwiches. Maybe I did do some good. I think I'll go with that. It's the thought that counts, right?