Thursday, December 15, 2011
$57.50, Part 2
Driving back into Manhattan at night, a friend and I decided to drop into a local cafe on 8th Street, just a half block from my parking garage. However, it was cold, the street was virtually empty, and parking was legal - it was after 10 PM and one no longer even had to pay for metered parking. So, why not park right in front and drop the car at the garage later?
I examined and reviewed the signs. The upper sign, Special Night Regulation, made no impression. Unlike the white backgrounds typically used for signs (in the two center signs--see Part 1 here), this one was like a graphic black hole - the sign used white type on a dark red and black background.
I ignored it because parking does not become more restrictive after becoming less restrictive. So I was looking at the white sign showing the end of metered parking. If you can park legally from 8AM to 10PM (using the Muni-Meter), and after 10PM for free, why would you suddenly be unable to park or stand one hour later, starting at 11PM? You see the logic? This is New York City parking 101.
So, at 11:29PM, as I exited Gizzi's Cafe, I was greeted with a traffic police officer just completing my parking ticket for $115. Perfect timing - he did not need to place the ticket under the windshield wiper, just hand it to me for the added personal touch. I was LIVID.
With disgust, I grabbed the ticket and threw it in my back seat. I told the officer how I was furious and that I have lived in the neighborhood for over 40 years and never heard of such a night regulation. He responded that if I lived there so long, I should know of the regulation. Point well made.
Best I reign it in and quit talking, so I left. However, I DO know the neighborhood and its parking regulations. I just do not street park much nowadays, and apparently, the night regulation is relatively new. I learned from a neighbor that this added regulation was acquired by the Village Alliance to minimize late-night carousing by visitors, who often park on the street and make a ruckus until late hours, disturbing residents.
Coincidentally, this neighbor has also worked for me. She is a long-time graphic artist and agreed that these night regulation signs virtually become invisible, owing to their graphic design. Many leave their cars after 11PM and are ticketed, expecting that parking is permitted after meter usage is no longer required.
When I got home, I was still fuming. It took a full two hours to calm down. You can buy a very nice Blu-Ray DVD player for $115. Money well spent is one thing, but nothing infuriates many a New Yorker like a parking ticket. These extremely high fines are mostly revenue enhancers for the city of New York, which now collects nearly a billion dollars annually from parking tickets.
I plotted and schemed of how I could beat this ticket, which I read front and back. I read online. I went back to examine the group of stacked signs. I did notice that on this pole, the Night Regulation sign is the only one that does not display "Department of Transportation."
As I calmed down and my thinking became more mature, I began to accept that I would likely have to pay the ticket and just see it as an expensive lesson learned. Then it occurred to me that I could do a story about the incident and get something for my $115. Better yet, I thought, I will write a two-part story and amortize my expense over two parts. A bit childish, and really a rather elaborate way to justify a mistake made. But it was the best lemonade I could squeeze from the lemon handed to me on December 10, 2011 at 11:29 PM, and each cup was going to cost a hefty $57.50 :)
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