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Just the Tickets

(Bugs & Cranks latest:

Wednesday Walk Watch: Week thWee: "Yuni sez: 'What is this "ball four" you speak of?'"

Now, onward and somewhere-elseward.)

The meter weenies where I park at the office are really starting to cheese me off.

First, a bit of background. Where I work, there's not a lot of parking to go around. The bigwigs get spaces in the garage, Important and essential staff rate reserved spots. Visitors can park in assigned areas for a day at a time.

"Me? No spot. Proving once again that 'peon' and 'parking space' are close together only in the dictionary."

Me? No spot. Proving once again that 'peon' and 'parking space' are close together only in the dictionary.

So, I park on the street. Several blocks away. This in a town with some sort of archaic bullshit law on the books where no one is allowed, at any time, on any street, to park for more than two hours at a time. Ever.

I don't know why. I can only imagine that they came up with that claptrap ordinance back when all the cars by the curb were disturbing the local buggy horses or the caveman carts or something. Parking spaces designated for only two-hour stopping are like thirty-year mortgages due in full in five. Or three-minute eggs cooked for thirty-seven seconds. A stripper doing her routine to the Seinfeld intro jingle. She'd barely get in a single gyration. It's shameful. And not in the good way.

Now, you may be thinking, certainly there are alternatives to fighting-the-law-and-the-law-won every damned weekday for the sake of making it to work. And you're right -- there are. For one, I could walk to work. Done that -- twice, actually, on days my car was in the shop. With a brisk tailwind, I can go from door to door in just about ninety minutes. Which is approximately sixty minutes longer than my usual vehicle-assisted commute, each way. Pass.

There's always public transportation, of course. I used to ride the bus and the subway all over Boston, and Pittsburgh (buses only) before that. I mean, just look at me. I have the face of the kind of guy who ought to be riding public transportation. Maybe sleeping in a subway car, or begging politely for change between stops. Most people can't believe that I could afford a car in the first place, so it's a logical choice.

Problem is, our house is in an awkward spot when it comes to Boston Metro transportational coverage. My wife deals with it now, and it sounds like a nightmare. She currently walks three blocks to a bus stop, where she waits a while, catches a bus that takes her to a subway station, where she waits another while, then catches a train that gets her within a few blocks of her building. And the same in reverse each night -- unless there's a problem with the trains, or one of the buses has broken down, or the whole scheduling system is in a state of general higgledy-piggledy. Which is usually, from what I gather.

My ordeal would be a tad worse, given that I'd have to go three extra stops, switch subway lines, and catch just the right lettered car heading towards my office. I've never made the exact trip, but based on my wife's commute and previous experience with riding the Beantown rails, I have a pretty good estimate of how long it would take: ninety minutes.

(Hence the walking when the car was on the fritz. It took just as damned long, bu at least I didn't have to pay three conductors, decipher route map hieroglyphics, and stand at all times behind the yellow line. Also, there's a sneaky rumor floating around that ninety minutes of walking qualifies as something called 'exercise'. My aching blisters were inclined to agree.)

(Oh, and because it's simply unpossible to post anything this spring without a reference to our impending move, you may be decidedly unsurprised at this point to learn that finding more convenient commutes is numero uno on our list of reasons to find a new house. I'm currently thinking something tucked in the corner of a strategically-located subway station would be just ducky.)

Probably there are other ways I could adjust my commute. I could buy a bike and risk my life dodging potholes, pedestrians and Masshole drivers. I could ride a Segway, but those things aren't much faster than walking. Also, I'm plenty dorky enough as it is -- and I rather enjoy having a soul. My best alternative so far would be to give up and sleep in the office, which my wife didn't protest against nearly enough when I told her. But someone's got to be here to kill spiders and carpool the dog around, so that ended up not working out, either.

And so, I drive. And park rather illegally, hoping most days to avoid a ticket. And most days, I do. Until recently.

Three weeks ago, I got dinged on a Friday. No worries there. I take the occasional ticket as the cost of doing business, living and working where I currently do. Two, three, even four tickets a month don't quite add up to the cost of an assigned spot in the garages a few blocks over where I might be able to get on a waitlist shorter than my expected lifespan. And if I'm either paying some slumlord garage owner or an organization that might also have actual cops on the roster, then I'd rather opt for the latter. I'm not thrilled about contributing to the meter monkeys' salaries to help them enforce some cockamamie two-hour nonsense, but maybe a few pennies of each citation goes to keeping hoods off the streets or getting cats out of trees or propping up the local doughnut industry. Or prosecuting slumlord garage owners who price me out of a spot. Something.

Anyway, at the end of the week, I found a ticket on the windshield. Fine. Then, Monday afternoon -- bam, another. Not cool.

Things were quiet until Thursday that week, when I returned to find another ticket taped to the glass. That's when I started mixing things up. There are a couple streets on which I've never gotten a citation. It's a bit further to walk, but I was quickly reaching my April quota -- and zero desire to go over. So I extended my commute by a few steps to shake the fuzz.

And the fuzz were shaken -- until yesterday, when I got a ticket on my usual street, and then today, when I got popped on one of my backup avenues. Which I thought were safe. But no. I feel so... violated. It's like the meter weenie just shot my car and scrawled 'TOUCHABLE' on the curb with its own transmission fluid. Color me aghast.

So now I don't know what the hell I'm going to do. Our move (mentioned it again!) will hopefully be a longer-term solution, but that could be weeks, even months, away. In the meantime, how am I going to get to work? Skateboard? Big Wheel? Hot air balloon?

That Segway idea is starting to look better and better. Surely, I could stand to be just a little more dorky. And what good is a soul when three-quarters of your salary is going straight to the parking cops? I just hope the thing comes with airbags -- those Boston drivers are brutal.

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