Curt is Chicago native - but don't hold that against him. After stops in Madison and California, he moved to Waukesha in 2004 to open a downtown business.
So I got a parking ticket last night and here is what is so great about that…
For starters, I don’t have any choice but to park my car in the public lot downtown. You see, I live here as well as work here, so my car is here 24 hours a day. I don’t have a garage or a car port, heck- I don’t even have a driveway.
I have a 9’x 16’ piece of asphalt that the city lends to me each year for the bargain rate of $228.
And when I say bargain, I actually mean it with sincerity- compared to most cities in America, parking for $228 annually is a steal.
Each month, it is my duty to walk down to the parking garage on South Street and buy another 5”x8” piece of paper and if I display it in my front window correctly, without folding it or crumpling it or forgetting it, I am rewarded with a place to park (except on Fridays when the lot is full because the streets are closed for Friday Night Live).
Parking passes don’t guarantee you parking- it’s first come, first serve. The pass also states that the city can restrict access to and/or close your lot whenever they feel like it. And tough beans if they do- you will have to find a 9’x16’ section of street somewhere else in the city to park on. Passes do not protect your vehicle from hail, wind damage, fire, theft, meteor strikes, bird poop, or squirrels nesting in your engine.
However, they do entitle you to park overnight.
That is except for last night when, for some unknown reason, at 3:14AM, parking officer #463 decided I needed a ticket.
Was it leap year? Vernal Equinox? Annual Give a Guy a Parking Ticket Day?
Or is it because I’m a Bear fan?
Whatever the reason, I was less than pleased to see the bright orange paper tucked under my window wiper, waiving in the gentle morning breeze as I left the house to walk my dog. As I removed it, I noticed the officer had circled violation number 18- No overnight parking: $20.
What’s funny is that it costs me $19 to park in that spot each month.
(That’s the first part of why getting this ticket was so awesome.)
According to directions on the ticket, I have a choice of what to do next.
I can pay the citation in one of three easy ways: by mail, by phone, or on line, or I can contest it.
Considering I paid to park here this month and the receipt is on record at the garage, I felt the right thing to do was contest.
The directions said I had 7 days to do so.
To contest, I needed to call and request an Administrative Review. When I was connected, a friendly robot lady told me to state my citation number.
Slowly and clearly I read my number, and after a long pause, I was told the number was not on file and I needed to try again.
So I did.
And the robot lady again said it was not on file.
At this point, I mumbled some choice words and the robot lady said she did not hear me and that I needed to speak more clearly.
So I did.
She said she did not understand my command.
What’s not to understand about me telling a robot where to shove this stupid citation?
Anyhow, after another long pause, the robot lady said this:
“We're sorry, no parking Citations were found in the system for the citation or license plate number that you entered. Please verify that the information entered is correct.
Please note that recently issued tickets may take up to 7 days to appear in the system.”
It may take seven days to appear in the system and I have seven days to contest it. (That’s the second most awesome part to getting this parking ticket.)
That’s brilliant. I would love to be able to make up rules like that. Someone really thought that one through and I hope that whoever it was is now head of something really important like city tax assessment or has retired and is living in a huge mansion on a Mexican beach enjoying the fruits of their dazzling intelligence because they deserve nothing less.
Ahhh, that felt good to get off my chest.
Anyway, I guess I am left with no choice but to pay the ticket and forget about it. If I don’t, the ticket envelope states bad things will happen to my privilege to drive.
And as an artist, you can imagine that I am just rolling in the dough anyway. That whole “starving artist” thing people say is just a cover. We have more money than we know what to do with most of the time. Just look at VanGogh- that guy had it made.
All in all, this ticket thing has been an experience I won’t soon forget.
As I write this, my permit for October is proudly displayed in my front driver’s side window, unfolded, uncrumpled, and within plain view for all to see.
Hopefully officer #463 will cut me some slack tonight. That $20 has cut deeply into my coffee smoothie fund for the month.