I won big in the Long Branch parking sweepstakes today after several losing efforts. First of all, those of you not from these parts should know that half of our community has free street parking along the Lakeshore strip and the other half has pay parking. Curiously enough, our local Business Improvement District inexplicably only covers half of our community, and strangely, it’s the half that has pay parking. The way the pay parking works is with those machines that require you to put in some money or your credit card and in exchange, it spits out a ticket. You might think, oh I’m just popping into the store to pick up something (translate: support a local business), I don’t need to pay for parking. That would be bad thinking, because the City of Toronto has hired a force of lightning fast enforcement vultures who can swoop in and write you up a ticket before you’ve cashed out your purchase.
For quite some time, the machine on the south side of Lakeshore, just east of Twenty Seventh on the south side has been like a slot machine. Sometimes you put in a quarter and it gives you a ticket and everybody is happy. Other times it eats your money and simply shuts itself off with a self-satisfied click. No ticket for you buddy. Today I hit the jackpot. It ate my quarter. I turned the red “cancel” control, even though I firmly believed this to be a placebo. Normally nothing happens when I try this, and I imagine the machine is silently laughing at me. This morning, $2.00 in coins came out, and my ticket. Winner! Well, I’ve at least broken even. Maybe I’m a little ahead of the game.
When I got home, I called 311, presuming it will continue to dispense free money all day. The good fellow I spoke to promised to refer the matter to the Toronto Parking Authority. I’m sure we can expect a crew of parking machine technicians to be onsite any time.
This all reminds me of an incident which occurred way back in 1990. Friends of mine who lived in an apartment on Queen West, hosted regular Twin Peaks parties. We would get together, enjoy coffee and apple pie, and watch Twin Peaks as a group. One day the show was just getting started when we heard a loud banging coming from the apartment upstairs. I don’t mean the sound of someone hammering nails or something like that. This was a seriously loud banging. Finally we ventured upstairs to find out what was going on. The rocker dudes who lived upstairs had themselves a parking meter. (where did you get a parking meter?…..we pulled it out of the ground….oh…). They also had themselves a large sledge hammer and they were walloping the meter with the sledge in an unsuccessful effort to extract the coinage from the machine. Judging from the size of the meter, and considering that in those days parking meters took dimes, I made a quick mental calculation and decided their goal was maybe $5 in coins vs their effort, which was gargantuan. It brought to mind something my father once said to me. Son, he said, stealing things is really stupid, but if nothing will do you have to steal something, at least think big.
I had a 1:30 appointment at the Nite Owl down the street to get my hair cut. It was raining so I drove over, parked right in front, and put a loony in the machine. It gave me a ticket + $1.50 change. Winner! I’m tempted to go for a walk down Lakeshore with a handful of quarters just to see how much I can win.