Gotta love technology. Do you remember the good old days when exiting a car park meant submitting to the scowls and growls of a surly parking attendant and waiting with baited breath while he mobilized himself long enough to open the barrier?
Alas, one more bastion of personal service has fallen to automation.
Trying to exit a car park recently I spent some time playing “guess how to insert the ticket” with the machine. Apparently arrow facing up and in was too obvious. So I tried arrow facing down and in. No luck. Arrow facing up and away fared no better, leaving me with one option. With a wish and a prayer I shoved in the ticket with the arrow facing down and towards me (not what I would have picked, but hey it’s not my ticket collecting machine). Well, final option or not, it clearly pissed off some parking god somewhere, because the machine spat it out onto the ground.
So there I was, with my ticket on the ground and the car sitting so close to the machine that the door wouldn’t open. Some people, in this situation, might have thought to back the car up and move it away from the machine, creating some space for the door to open. Well phooey to that! The only solution that presented itself to me was to climb over the passenger seat and walk around the car to retrieve the ticket.
So, spraying the contents of my handbag across the tarmac in the process, I clambered over the passenger seat and scrambled out. Desperately trying to hoick my skirt back down from around my hips, I trotted around the car, feigning nonchalance and attempting to ignore the growing queue of cars behind me. To my horror I found about 50 tickets strewn on the ground around the machine. Probably the leftovers from all those hapless parkers who decided to abandon their cars rather than endure the humiliation of an intellectual standoff with the machine.
Nonetheless, I picked the cleanest ticket and the machine, having had its fun for the day, accepted my payment. Apparently the ticket I picked wasn’t mine, as I ended up paying for a four-day stay, but at that point I was so desperate to escape I would have surrrendered my firstborn.
Next time I’ll find a meter.