On Parking Lots and Ticket SlotsBy Tracy
So it seems we have turned the usual corner here in Saskatchewan. Our futile complaints about the early winter have given way to grudging acceptance and after much reluctance we’ve all adjusted to the terrible winter driving conditions. I’m quite proud of the fact that I screeched in before the Snow Deadline and had winter tires put on. Now the sensible Mom-car is even more sensible in its new winter kicks. I can confidently resume my job as a reluctant Taxi Driver whose territory is "All over Hell's Half Acre".
Speaking of driving (endlessly), it would seem that everywhere I need to go lately is outfitted with a parking lot. Hospitals, malls, airports, you name it, they all have that one thing in common: The dreaded automated ticket machine at the exit.
The concept is simple. Pay for your ticket at the machine inside before you leave (after said machine spits it out the first 8 times. “Stripe down, you idiot!”), and out you go. Yeah right…Who made these machines? The people laughing their heads off, that’s who. It is clear once you pull up to these little beasts that it is not simply a case of opening your window and placing the ticket in the little slot. N-O. I’ve found that it always shakes down the same way:
First, with your foot on the brake, you try to reach over and insert the ticket but the evil machine is too far away. So then you must sigh heavily and remove your seatbelt. Of course, you still can’t reach it. You must then swear loudly, put your car in park and try it again. Fail. You now must kneel with one knee on the window ledge placing your opposite foot on the chest of your passenger in order to gain enough leverage to manoeuver the ticket into the slot. Dazed and confused by the whole process, you then need to gather the presence of mind to get back into driving position so you can gun it to make it under the very temporarily raised arm.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of trying to leave the Saskatoon Airport parking lot; good luck to you, my friend. The machine is about half a city block back from the arm. I suggest blasting the soundtrack to Top Gun on your car stereo and flooring it.
I know what you’re saying, ‘Why don’t you just go to the kiosk?’ Some people have the luxury of driving up to the kiosk and dealing with an actual human being, not the parking machine from hell. These people are special, they have something called Cash. Cash is coin and paper currency; something I have not seen since my children began attending elementary school. All the Cash in the house from that moment on went to things called Book Orders and Hot Lunch Days and Teacher’s Gifts.
Mrs. Neat-as-a-Pin has cash and always seems to be in front of me in the lineup to leave the parking lot. She shares a laugh with the kiosk attendant as he raises the arm for her. She is in no hurry. She has no melting ice cream or sullen teenagers in her back seat. No, she refastens her seatbelt, zips her wallet closed, has a sip of Evian and re-applies her lipstick. Only then does she put the car in gear and drive under the arm. No fear has she of the arm coming down on the roof of her Buick. No sir. She has All the Time in the World to exit.
Alas, I should be grateful that I still have the kids with me in the car. Soon, I will give them the rest of my Cash, they will buy their own cars, and I will have All the Time in the World too. I don’t look forward to that…Drive safe everyone!
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