schedules · slice of life · technology

Feed the Meter

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I HATE being late. I DETEST rushing. If REFUSE to be late when it comes to picking up my children.

I felt the blood drain out of my face when I attempted to feed the meter on the parking app about 18 minutes before my children’s art class ended, only to find that I couldn’t extend my parking time on the app! Either I’d have to get a ticket or move my car. I was FURIOUS because I had been sitting in the building’s lobby for nearly two hours when I realized I couldn’t feed the meter. And here I was with 20 minutes to spare before they would be dismissed from their classes!

I packed everything strewn across the table and marched out of the building. I power walked to my car, which was parked diagonally across the street from where I was sitting. I reopened my side mirror, snapped a screenshot of the abomination I was viewing on the app, and thought about where else I could park quickly so I could return by noon.

I didn’t grow up in Lancaster, PA. I grew up in the NY Metropolitan Area. We went to Manhattan or Brooklyn most weekends when I was a kid. I remember plenty of meter feeding so we wouldn’t get a parking ticket from parking enforcement. (We’d only move the car if the tires were marked!) Now that we live in the days of digital parking apps and parking enforcement that uses technology, it seems that meter-feeding is a thing of the past.

I had two nearby choices: the Hager Lot or the Prince Street Garage. Seeing as Prince Street was jammed up since Saturday is a Market Day, I put on my signal and pulled into the Prince Street Garage. (Little known fact: I dislike parking garages.)

I walked out the wrong exit from the garage onto Orange Street, rather than onto Prince Street, which gave me an extra block to walk back to my destination. Expletives were rolling around in my head since I was worried I wouldn’t make it back on time. I HUSTLED on the sidewalks saying, “excuse me,” to anyone I passed. (I may have a NY mentality when it comes to feeding the meter, but I walk through life here with Pennsylvania politeness.)

I reached for the door to the school and discovered a line about ten adults deep. “Are you waiting to pick your kid up from class?” I asked the lady in front of me.

“Yeah, but the kids are downstairs yet.”

I peered down at my watch and was greeted with both hands on the 12. THANK. THE. LORD.

I caught my breath, retrieved my phone, and snapped a photo at 12:01 PM.

This evening, I googled “feeding the meter” and found a WNYC piece on meter feeding. While I used to think feeding the meter wasn’t a big deal because one was paying to park, I now understand there’s an allotted time limit. You cannot stay in that area (be it a large zone like we have around Central Market in Lancaster or on a city street in Manhattan) past the time limit. Quite frankly, I think it’s preposterous to make it impossible to buy more time — even 15 minutes extra — on a parking app. However, a rule is a rule… and I’m a rule follower. Next time, I’m heading straight to a parking lot (not the parking garage)!

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14 thoughts on “Feed the Meter

  1. I could feel your stress emanating from your slice! I’m glad you made it just in the nick of time! It’s super annoying that you had to move in the first place.

  2. Totally felt the hustle and hassle of this piece. And going out the wrong exit added to the pressure cooker situation. In the end, you were on time and learned for next time. Whew!

  3. I could feel your annoyance from this. Living in a small town, I don’t have to feed the meter but think that would be highly frustrating.

  4. Stacey, you bring the frustration to life and invite us into the experience with you, where we think of our own brushes with parking tickets and language we used that needed forgiveness at the time! I had a non-working parking garage in Savannah a couple weekends ago that brought a fair amount of anxiety and stress, and your slice today reminds me that I’m not the only one who goes through this. Your words and tone bring the exact mood for the reader to feel your frustration and relate.

  5. Oh, I felt like I was right there with you! I hate when there is no place to park. In Ambler, there are meters everywhere. I keep a plastic empty pill bottle filled with quarters to use when I go to the nail salon or out to dinner and a movie. West Chester University is a nightmare, too. I have not used a parking app. I have used parking garages where the payment process is a nightmare. I like the one on Broad Street next to the Doubletree. Get a ticket from the machine upon entering and park. When exiting, give your ticket to the attendant and pay in cash or with a credit card. Easy if you don’t misplace your ticket!

    1. Oh, Lynne! I hope parking is easier in Phoenixville! 🙂
      Ask Isabelle how I am as a parallel parker when we see you on Friday. It’ll give you a laugh! You can also ask her about the “white ticket” incident if you want a laugh.

  6. You have written this in a way that brings the reader right along with you minute by minute. I can feel your frustration and also all of your convictions that are shaping your response and ultimate understanding of this moment.

  7. Your slice was making me feel stressed! 😩 I, too, detest being late. I get the idea of time limits, but I think an extra 15-30 minutes is reasonable.

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