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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Death to the Meter Man


This is a really stupid story. Drove downtown today to pick up one of my offspring at Union Station. Cruise through the loop in front of the station but no sign, so I drive down the road a block and pull up under the overpass. I don't know how long it will take the bus to arrive, it might be 5 minutes, or it might be an hour. It's Sunday, traffic should not be too bad, so it shouldn't be too long. From where I am sitting, I will be able to see the bus when it arrives. I open my book and I have just turned to the first page when there is a knock on my window. It's a meter man on a bicycle. He wants to me to buy a pass or he will write me a ticket for $60. I tell him I just got here. He doesn't care, buy a pass or get a ticket. Fine, I'll buy the stupid pass, so I get out and walk the 50 feet to the machine and try and buy a pass. Bike man comes up and starts talking to me. I'm trying to buy a pass and he is persona non-grata. He repeats himself. I make a reply that apparently satisfies him and he toddles off to harass his next victim. The machine won't sell me a pass. I push the buttons and nothing happens. It was happy enough when I put the card in, but now it's non-responsive. I finally reach into the slot to see if maybe it gave me a pass in secret. No, no pass, but there are some coins in there. I pull them out. It's forty cents, just what the meter man has been telling me my pass is going to cost. Obviously this machine is on the fritz. Someone else tried to buy a pass with change and the machine refused to make that sale either. Fine, I'll move along. As I drive away, I see the meter man, so I stop and tell him that I tried to buy a pass, but the machine refused to sell me one. He tells me to pull over and he will help me with the machine. I don't want any help with the bloody machine, I don't want a pass, and I certainly don't want to waste any more time talking to this cretin. So I tell him to send me a ticket. Jerk.
    This place is just like the airport, except on a smaller scale. The amount of curb space and standing room would have been perfectly adequate back in 1950 when taking a bus was big deal and only the most upstanding citizens could afford a bus ticket. But should there be any real traffic like you might get in say, 2013, there isn't a fraction of what you need. We have room for grass and flowers and all kinds of other useless stuff, but room to wait for an arriving train? Go fly a kite.
    I can understand parking enforcement when there is a big demand for parking, but Sunday afternoon down the street from Union Station is not one of those places. Around the corner is an entire block of empty parking spaces. I drive a pickup truck, and if parking was at a premium I wouldn't even bother trying to squeeze into some econo-car sized space, I would just drive around until the bus showed up. Giving the horrible traffic management system in downtown Portland I doubt whether I would have been able to drive around the block twice, even if the bus was an hour late. But it wasn't busy. The place was practically dead. I was able to pull into a spot because it was open on the end. You never find situations like that when it's busy.
    I got angry, at least on the inside. Meter man could probably tell I was madder than a wet hen, but I didn't yell or cuss or make any other overt signs of  pissed-offed-ness. I wished, nay, devoutly prayed that John Cleese would drop a sixteen ton weight on this turd of a person.


Alas, that did not happen. The worst part of all this is that this episode is now indelibly engraved in my memory and will continue to pop into my head at random times and make me angry all over again.

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