Honey, where are you going?
Downtown for lunch.
Sweetheart, why are you walking all stooped-over like that?
Backpack. Very heavy…
It’s already time to have the anvil serviced? Land sakes, where does the time go?
It’s not the anvil. It’s coins for the parking meter.
You mean to say that backpack is filled with quarters? How long do you plan to be at lunch, anyway?
A couple of hours.
You’d better take some more coins!
Conversations like this one are going on all over Santa Fe these days, ever since the city doubled the cost of feeding a parking meter. Overnight, it went from eight quarters for two hours to 16 quarters for two hours. You want to add a third hour? That’s another $3. That’s right, three hours, 28 quarters!
We all know the City Different is the City Destitute these days, but you have to ask yourself: When was the last time you saw a 100 percent price increase for something happen overnight?
Okay, sir, that’ll be $14 to see Suicide Squad at the Violet Crown. Nice timing—tomorrow it would cost you $28!
You see what I mean? That just sounds wrong. In its own defense, the city points out it actually reduced prices in its off-street parking lots and garages, but those places tend to fill up, especially during tourist season.
Of course I have my own assigned Humor Columnist space in the Reporter’s parking lot, so I’m taken care of, but I do feel sorry for you locals and tourists who are struggling with this meter thing.
Merchants around the Plaza say folks aren’t taking time to shop anymore, they’re so busy looking a their watches. Some people think meters around the Farmers Market should go back to the old prices, because, you know, farmers.
One resident of questionable compassion said in a newspaper letter that we should just cut way back on the number of spaces reserved for the handicapped. Your call is important to us, Mr. Grinch.
But the increase isn’t the only meter-related thing I wanted to mention. There is a proposal before the City Council, right now, aimed at keeping drunk drivers off the streets.
Here’s how it would work. You go to a restaurant or a bar, see, and you have nine or 10 margaritas, and you realize you’re too wasted to drive home. Your car is parked at a meter, and you know they start ticketing cars at 8 am.
Under the new plan, you would ask the bartender for a voucher, assuming you’re not too hammered to remember the word. Then, you stumble to your car, put the voucher on your dashboard, and bingo, parking enforcement ignores your car until 9:30 or 10:30 the next morning, depending on which version the Council passes. Then you barf all over yourself and tell your wife to come get you, and bring some rags.
The goal is admirable, but I have some misgivings. I can picture responsible citizens who get drunk at home, the way I do, having a hard time finding parking at 9 am because the public-drinking sots still have all the good spaces, and for free.
Also, if we’re going to do this, there should be some shaming involved. The vouchers should be big, red and easy to read through a windshield, and should say, “This parking space is currently unavailable, because EUGENE JOHNSON was too much of a selfish dickweed to control himself last night! Feel free to key his stupid car!”
Now, THAT’S a voucher I could get behind!
Robert Basler’s humor column runs twice monthly in SFR. Email the author: firstname.lastname@example.org