A Kinder, Gentler PPA
Dear PPA: A few months back, my fiancé and I had a small run-in with you. You know the type—just the de rigueur sort of little parking miscommunication that happens all the time. No biggie. I mean, it’s basically a requisite for living in Philly, isn’t it?
Ours was a non-run-in, actually, in that we never saw an actual ticket (which, had we gotten, would’ve had to have been left on the car while my betrothed was actually sitting in the driver’s seat). Weird, right?
Anyway, it wasn’t until he got another ticket for staying three minutes late at a parking meter that it was brought to his attention that he had the aforementioned outstanding ticket (complete with late charges!). After learning that contesting our phantom ticket required a written letter and a trip during the day to your office (tall order when you have a job—especially in the ‘burbs, like he does), he caved and just paid the whole lump sum: $54.
But don’t sweat it, PPA. I mean, we barely even blinked.
After all, we’re in the midst of “Parking Wars” territory. What’s a few bucks compared to all the booting and towing as seen on TV? Actually, as seen in real life, too: I have a friend who’s twice had to travel to South Philly to pick up her car from the impound lot—and shell out serious cash—after the street on which she always left her car was determined temporarily closed for parking. The signs for said closing weren’t on her block; it was days before she realized that you folks had towed her car away. Still, she counts herself lucky compared to the people whose cars are simply moved to another location when the roads are shut down. When they call to find their car, y’all breezily tell them to simply look around: They’ll find their car somewhere in the five surrounding blocks.
Anyway, I’ve taken all this as a matter of course for so long that it took me by great surprise when, on a recent trip to Indianapolis, we inadvertently overstayed our time at the meter by a couple hours. We remembered the paid parking ending at 6; the city had evidently recently extended paying hours until 8. Yikes, right? But—get this—here’s what was left on the windshield of the car:
“Thank you for parking with ParkIndy!” read a flier. “Your vehicle was observed parked in violation of the new meter days and hours. This Reminder Notice is being served to provide you with information about changes to metered parking. There are no fines or fees due at this time. In the future, however, your vehicle could be cited for parking in violation of posted days and hours.”
Now say what you will about the size of that city, about the Midwestern temperament, about Philly’s lack of parking, etc., etc. Fact is, the warm and fuzzy feeling we left our parking spot with gave me a brilliant idea, PPA. One that might help improve your image—and maybe even Philly’s image—a little.
Imagine, PPA, a kinder, gentler you. Maybe it starts with five-minute grace periods for parking meters, and extends to keeping records of where cars get moved to, when they must be moved. Oh, and maybe putting your friendliest employees on phone duty. Investing in a few little fliers when parking rules change (the signs aren’t always terribly clear, you know). Pulling the plug on “Parking Wars”—and canning whoever thought that was good PR for you or for the city.
I’m not saying this will be the start of a beautiful relationship. I’m just saying it—you—might suck a little less.
Which would be good.
PS. We’ll talk about the taxis in this town another time.