Thursday, June 26, 2008

Reduced-Rate Parking

Finding a legal parking space in DC is always a challenge. Today I went a little early for my haircut at Axis hoping to find a free space on 19th Street. After my 4th pass, I realized my parking karma was just not strong enough. So I opted for a 2-hour spot at a meter with 10 minutes to spare until my appointment.

The first quarter gave me 15 minutes. But after I reached 30 minutes, the meter just ate my quarters. I stopped at $1.

It’s a blessing and a curse when the meter doesn’t work. It means you get free/reduced parking. But you also have to call in the problem to guard against having to pay a ticket. Here are the instructions on how to report a broken meter.

As I dialed the number, I found myself saying “Oh shit! I don’t have anything to write the case number on or with.” I gave the voice at the other end my meter identification: 201603NW. He asked for my last name.

When he proceeded to give me the 7-digit number, I repeated it several times hoping to commit it to memory. Then I spied a discarded pen in the dirt and looked around for a scrap of paper. The back of someone’s business card in the gutter would do just fine. Now I was armed with the necessary information to nullify any ticket that I might get during the next 2 hours.

I walked into Axis with 3 minutes to spare, knowing I had just purchased 2 hours of parking for $1. Not bad.

It would seem that about half the parking meters in DC are broken. Maybe they are just letting them all die as they install the machines they now use in Georgetown and on Capitol Hill to sell you parking time.

Meanwhile, it seems like you could get a lot of free parking out of a failed meter by simply calling in every 2 hours and giving someone else’s name.

As many times as I have encountered a broken meter, I have never actually gotten a ticket. Could it be their system is sophisticated enough to sense that a call has been placed reporting the failure? Probably not. Today it was probably because every cop with any sense was not walking the street in the 90+ degree weather.

Not only did I get a deal on parking, but I have a wonderful new haircut and enjoyed the chance to catch up with my hair stylist Richard, who knows everything there is to know about DC restaurants. He is so cool!


Blogger Kristin said...

I was JUST talking about reporting broken meters. I always call and appreciate the good luck in a free (or cheap) spot.

8:05 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

New York is doing away with those old-style meters in favor of the new machines. Unfortunately, NYC parking cops are mercilessly efficient.

I love the image of you scrabbling around for a pen & paper! Too funny!

12:13 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- Do you also find this happens a lot in DC?

Steve -- I did think I was fairly resourceful when faced with the need to remember long strings of numbers.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

What a great story and great information as well. No pics of the new haircut?

I have been catching up on your posts here and in reading them back to back it seems as though you are like the Energizer Bunny - you keep going and going. Gotta love it!

5:03 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Gary -- My haircut looks just as it did for our May Day party, although Reya claims it's a little different.

We talked to Richard over lunch after my haircut and he told us about a $20 bus to NYC. We may make a visit sooner than you might think!

5:09 PM  

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