The $20 check was written and in an envelope in my hand, and I was driving out the driveway when Jon came walking up from the train station, home from work early. He looked as though he was going to pop with some great news.
“Well, I did it,” he gloated.
“I have to get this check in the mail right away. I’ll be right back!” I called, and then sped to the post office, still rattled by an earlier trip to Ardmore.
I had driven over there to have lunch with a friend (who was going to tell me all I needed to know about setting up a website) and then afterwards to pick up a pair of running shoes I had ordered. It was a sparkling late fall day and I had looked forward to the outing. I parked in my usual lot off Cricket Avenue, loaded the meter with enough quarters to get two hours, and headed to the restaurant, the one where you can get a burger and fries. I waited by the register. And waited. And waited. I finally thought to look at my phone, and there was a text message: she wasn’t going to be able to make it because she had to pick up her daughter. (The dreaded call from the school nurse.) Okay. At least I could get my new shoes. So off to the shoe store – where they brought me a box with the wrong shoes in it. “Oh, we are so sorry. We’ll reorder for you. They’ll be here before the end of the week!”
No bacon burger. No website wisdom. No new Nikes.
I trudged back to the parking lot and, as I approached my car, I could see that the meter was flashing that red EXPIRED flag. But I had put in many quarters! It should have had almost an hour left on it! In fact, it should have had exactly the amount of time on the other meter on the shared pole, where there hadn’t been and still wasn’t a car…
Yep. I had filled the wrong meter. It was only then that I turned around and saw the Lower Merion Township parking ticket tucked under my windshield wiper. The ticket had been written five minutes after I had parked the car. The fine was noted in nice big, bold print: $20. I stewed all the way home. There was no way to fight it, of course. It was my own fault for not being careful about the double meter thing. On top of that annoyance, when I got home and read the fine print on the ticket, I saw that the Lower Merion Township office had to have the money in 48 hours or “additional fines could be imposed.” I didn’t feel like driving another 25 miles to Ardmore and back any time soon, so I had to get that check in the mail pronto.
Once back from the post office, I poured a cup of tea and sat down to hear Jon’s story:
Jon: I got her.
Jon: The woman who gets off the train here the same time I do. She always walks up our street ahead of me and gets into a car in front of the Holts’ house. I had suspected that she was parking there all day, but couldn’t be sure. This morning, I had to take the 7:53 instead of the 7:14, and I saw her park the car in the very same spot. As I passed her, I even pointed out the two-hour parking sign, just as a friendly gesture, in case she hadn’t seen it. She snapped, “Oh, I know. Who cares?” So at lunchtime, I called the township office and asked if they could put an official warning notice on the car. But they don’t do warnings! And when I walked by the car right now, I saw she had a ticket! Hah!
(I need to note that Jon is usually mild-mannered in his conscientiously Quaker sort of way, not one to take revenge or exhalt over another’s misfortunes. But this business of people using our little one-block street next to the SEPTA station as a parking lot gets him agitated. The weird “great news” look was back, he was so sheepishly gleeful that he had taken action.)
Jon: Now she’ll have to pay a fine.
Kathy: Could you see the amount of the fine on the ticket?
Jon: Yes! $20!