Yesterday, I headed down to Pioneer Square to have lunch with a buddy of mine.
I approached a parking meter under the Viaduct, ordered up a $4 hour of parking, and was charged $4.88. A 22% markup. Apparently, this was a private meter, and the owner unbundled all of the taxes and tacked it onto the end. Nice. I’ve heard it said that costs decrease when private industry controls public functions, but in retrospect, I would have been better off using a city meter.
Price wasn’t my biggest problem, though. My biggest problem was that, unlike city meters, the private meter did not provide me with tape to adhere the receipt to my headlamp. Instead, I was supposed to “place it on my dashboard”.
Lacking a dashboard, I affixed the receipt to my brake cable, but when I came back, it was gone.
Such is the nature of scooter parking in Seattle. This makes the third time in one month that my receipt has been absconded with. The fourth time if you count the private contractor that stole my money on Broadway and nonsensically blamed a wireless provider.
Yesterday, while standing in this very parking lot, I made a decision. I decided to become a dedicated, dyed-in-the-wool, militant scofflaw.
Contrary to popular belief, I am usually a very law-abiding guy. Sure, I’ve taken a drug or twelve in the past, but I’ve never shoplifted, stolen anything, or hurt anyone unless self-defense was involved. I have long hair and look like some kind of grungehippie, but I leave tips, drive safely, and I help old ladies cross the street. Hell, I once returned a lost wallet containing $200 in cash at a theme park. I’ve raged against the machine from time to time, but never in a collateral damage sort of way. For God’s sake, I’m not a filthy Vancouverite animal.
That said, we are in a time of war. A war on scooters. This war is being waged by something I like to call the “Axis of Evil”, and this “Axis of Evil” ranges from the City Council, to the Courts, to private parking contractors. As an act of rebellion against this Axis of Evil, I shall no longer put money into any meter in the City of Seattle. It no longer makes any fiscal sense for me to do so.
If I pay a meter, and my ticket gets stolen, as it often does, I have to spend a day in court to possibly get the ticket expunged. This in and of itself will cost me more than $35. The judge is under no obligation to dismiss the ticket, and since her job depends on ticket revenue, she has a strong incentive to let it stand. This means that having a ticket stolen can cost me twice as much as not paying the meter in the first place.
I pay for parking about five times per week. I pay anywhere from $2 – $8 per parking episode, with an average of $4. This means that I spend roughly $80 per month paying for scooter parking.
Now, assuming that the average Seattle parking ticket is $35, this means that I could get two parking tickets per month, and still come out ahead. Not only that, but not paying the meter ensures that my parking sticker cannot get stolen, and it ensures that I will never have to spend a day in court to prove my innocence. As if this were not a strong enough incentive, If I don’t bother paying for parking stickers, my chances of getting ripped-off by malfunctioning meters is 0%.
That settles it. From here on out, I am a scofflaw. I’m not voluntarily paying the City of Seattle one red cent. If I get a parking ticket, maybe I’ll pay it … or then again, maybe not. After all, the city still owes me for their last machine malfunction. They got my money, I didn’t get to park.
Private lots can lick my hairy beanbag as well. Since I cannot affix their receipts to my “dasboard”, from now on, I’ll keep my New York Lock under my seat, and I will lock it to a stationary object in the commercial lot. Try towing that.
My scooter takes up so little room that it’s laughable, nonetheless, I pay the same amount to park as an Escalade. I emit far less pollution, impact the infrastructure far less, and have a net positive impact on traffic. Yet, everywhere I go I am relentlessly punished.
There’s an old saying in Tennessee that says, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me — You can’t get fooled again”. I’ve spent the last few months being a hyper-vigilant, civically responsible, Johnny Do-Gooder, but this is the USA. People like me just get pants-down screwed by everyone from the government to the corporate contractors to the criminals.
From now on, if you want my money, you’re going to have to work for it. I’m not just handing it over. I will no longer be abused for doing the “right thing”.
Heretofore, I shall be a scofflaw, and I shall wear that label with pride.