I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Today, in a fit of fall cleaning (that's what we have down here - fall cleaning, when the blood starts to run, the humidity drops below 1,000%, and everyone is suddenly cheerful again) I attacked my car.

My disgusting Mercedes, repository of ancient receipts and highlighters...

And parking space tickets. Slips? What are those things called? Chits?

For those of you outside South Florida, coin-operated meters are being phased out, in favor of electronic machines that refuse to eat any but the most crisp and delectable dollar bills, and usually can't process credit cards, for some reason or another, thereby completely defeating their purpose. They also refuse to swallow coins at a rate of more than one coin every thirteen seconds.

Therefore, the beloved and time-tested ritual of standing, ass-out-in-traffic, muttering and scrounging for a quarter on your floorboards, is being replaced by a new ritual: going from machine, to machine, to machine, hunting for a Credit-Card-Processing-Card-Printing-Parking-Machine that will take your dollar, or process your credit card. After you find the one machine in four that actually works (you can usually find it, because there's a line to use it), the machine spits out a little sheet of paper that you then take back to your car, and toss on your dashboard. This slip is, in effect, your parking meter, and it tells the Meter Maid when it's finally time to give you a ticket. It's a colossal waste of time and paper, and it's extremely inefficient.

After you're done, and you've left, you have a souvenir of where you've been, and what time you had to leave, in the form of a slip of paper that yellows on your dashboard, before sliding into the crack between your dashboard and the windshield to form a nest for ants or roaches, or dropping, like an autumn leaf, onto the floor of your car, to form a slippery ante-carpet of parking rectangles.

I'm not sure whether this retarded brilliant parking invention now graces other cities, but because everything down here is busted and stupid (see - Metrorail) and everything everywhere else is awesome (see - D.C. Metro System) I assume that this particular parking quirk only exists down here, where everyone's an idiot.

First, I don't understand how it works. How do Meter Maids read those slips things? They're printed in this odd digital-dot-matrix font that blends together to resemble Sanskrit to me. I'm a lawyer, and I can barely read the slips, and I'm assuming most Meter Maids don't have a degree in print Journalism, with focuses on Urban Planning and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Miami.

Second - they're messy. Really messy. Cleaning out today, I pulled like fifty slips out of various cracks and crannies in my car, in various stages of staining and yellowing.

Third - They're environmentally disastrous. How many trees are we bulldozing so that I can amass trash in my car? Why can't I recycle these stupid slips for future parking credits? How much money is the City of Miami (Beach) spending on toner or thermal paper for parking slips? Is this a budget item? Is this where my property tax money is going? Are these meters not self-funding?!

Fourth - They're just STUPID! Who devised this system?

I could go on, and on, and on. Okay - here's what I'll concede - it's REALLY NICE to be able to pay for parking with a credit/debit card. That's awesome. But how about olden-day meters, that can either jam with accept Coins and flash "FAIL" but can also accept and wirelessly-transmit credit card signals? Huh? No fuss, no muss?

It's like... communist or something. Park, get out, go to machine, buy slip of paper, walk back to car, put slip of paper in car, close and lock car, go about one's business, spend an hour cleaning trash out of car a year later...

At the end of the day, though, the system totally doesn't make sense. And seriously? I have enough going on in my life, not to have to remember to throw out those goddamn slips when I get home. It's tempting me into becoming a parking-slip littering vigilante, just to get back at the Man... the Man being the Miami (Beach) Parking Authority.

So, when you see a pristine Kompressor, its owner laughing maniacally and tossing handfuls of parking slips out the windows, honk and say, "Hi."