Friday, April 25, 2014

A Parking Ticket

I stared at the directions on the screen like I had never seen them before.

"Insert the card fully" it mandated, as if what I had done was something different.

Oh, it wasn't.

"The magnetic stripe must be down and facing to the right". I am not certain if these were the exact instructions, but I removed the card and tried to re-insert it as required, unsure if I was in fact meeting the specifications.

I had charged 0 cents, thus allowing for no time to park my vehicle. I pressed the "add time" and my mission was complete. I had an official document, to be prominently displayed in the front window, driver side, of my car, giving me the permission of the City of New York to leave my vehicle where it was for over an hour.

I followed the dictates, first almost allowing the small slip of paper to fall into the crevice between the inside of the windshield and the inner workings of my automobile, but managing to retrieve it even as but a tiny sliver remained visible.

Finally, success.

My struggle to perform the most simple of tasks was not unexpected. It came to me naturally. And so, even as I applauded my abilities, I knew some disaster, for something presently unknown to me, must await. It was but an inevitability.

And I did not have to linger long for the answer.

My wife and I returned to the car well within the allotted time. While she got on the cell phone to call our daughter, and asked me to wait before moving so that we could determine our next destination, I saw what appeared to be some kind of flyer stuck on the exterior front window, underneath the windshield wiper.

I kind of shimmied over in my seat, opened the driver door and reached for the offending advertisement. Only it wasn't what I thought.

"A ticket. What is this?" I had no idea what I could have done to incur the wrath of the City of New York.

The $35 charge explained "receipt faces down/no driver no permit no activity".

I had placed the receipt with the wrong side being exposed for public view. Rather than reporting that my expiration time was 8:39 PM and my expiration date was 4/24/14, I had merely informed anyone interested to "Watch for Cyclists when opening doors or making turns".

My wife didn't even need to suggest to me the level of incompetence involved. She had seen a version of this play performed so many times that conversation on the subject would have proven nothing but redundant and useless.

When we tried (or should I say she tried) to rectify this problem by advising the City of New York online of who they were dealing with, and providing photographic evidence of my lack of comprehension, she was alerted that the ticket had not yet been processed within the system and it might be at least a week before we could plead idiocy as a defense. And, I will then find out whether I have to also appear to parade my stupidity in open court.

The worst part of it is I know that this is far from the last time that a variation of this theme will play out before me. There will be a moment when, to the vast majority of humanity, there is  but a seemingly innocuous request, some minimally invasive mandate that will instead set off seismic shock-waves within my brain, leading to some almost inconceivable calamity.

Hanging from the mirror of cars of some of my friends are small placards announcing that the person driving this vehicle has physical limitations and requires favors to accommodate these special needs. But I have never seen one that speaks to afflictions like mine. I think I should have been able to place, right next to the upside down piece of paper a notice to the world that "the driver of this vehicle is unable to follow even the most mundane of commands, and therefore if you see anything unusual about the receipt you are now staring at, just ignore the problem and move on."

Discrimination is an ugly word.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We once parked at Zabar's at the same time as another Vermont couple. We did the whole "where are you from?" thing, placed our little tickets on the dash and walked into the store. We finished our shopping spree and headed back across Broadway. There was the meter maid ticketing our state-mate's Subaru. We asked if they took out less time than we did, "I have no way of knowing," she replied, "their ticket is upside down." Needless to say, I always make sure the time is facing up.

Are you feeling better that you are not alone? PB