A Tale of Two Parking Citations

It’s not often that I receive a parking ticket. Wait… let me rephrase that…

It’s not often enough that I receive a parking ticket.

Here’s how parking should work for me, if it were a perfect world. In a perfect world, I would feel completely safe leaving my car in the parking garage two blocks down from my building. In a perfect world, my back wouldn’t be in excruciating pain as I make my way across the two blocks walking toward my building. But it’s not a perfect world.

So I lazily opt to park my car on the curb directly across the street from my building. Unless there isn’t any space, at which point I’ll go around the corner and find some room on the curb there. These nearby curbs offer 2-hour parking. But that 2-hour limit is limited to Monday-Friday, 8:00am until 5:00pm.

This means I’m pretty much free to leave my car sitting there overnight. Which is great. And is what I typically do.

This only proves to be a problem on days that I work from home. Because I can’t just leave my car sitting in the same place where it sat overnight. Because once 8:00am hits on a weekday, the clock starts. Two hours later, in theory, if my car isn’t moved, I’m owed a citation for overtime parking. That’s a $20 fine. Not bad, right?

No… it’s not bad. In fact, I don’t mind paying that $20 fine when I know I’ve earned it.

There have been a number of days when I definitely earned my $20 fine. Back in my old job, when I would take a sick day, I often wouldn’t feel well enough to go downstairs and cross the street to move my car to another area of the block, just to avoid the ticket. But you know what? On a lot of those days, even without moving my car, I did not receive a ticket.

I’ve decided that the folks who go around to check on your overtime parking habits are sporadic at best. Some days they seem to be legalistic and regimented in their timing. Other days… it’s like they don’t exist and we can all park wherever the wind carries us. It’s anarchy.

On February 6, just a few short weeks ago, I received a parking citation. Of course, I didn’t see the little yellow envelope containing the all important citation under my windshield wiper until the next morning, February 7. Once one has received a parking citation, one has 15 days in which to pay said citation. If one does not pay within said 15 days, one owes an additional $15 late fee.

Did I pay my citation on time? Of course I did. Why wouldn’t I? I’m certain I was guilty of leaving my car in the same spot for more than two hours the previous day. I was working from home that day and I probably got caught up doing something important and the fact that my car needed to be moved periodically throughout the day very likely slipped my mind. It happens. Here’s your $20. Don’t spend it all in one place.

Today, when I returned home from work, I checked my mail to find something from Park Roanoke, the office in town responsible for parking citations. This was a notice that I was past due paying for a parking citation.

I beg your unbelievable pardon?!

No… no… I paid that citation. I have the emailed receipt to prove it. I have the missing $20 plus $2.75 convenience fee showing on my bank statement.

So I do what any disgruntled Roanoke parker would do. I called Park Roanoke to find out what the Smurf was going on.

“Well, it looks like you had two citations pretty close together. The one for February 6 was paid, but you didn’t pay the one for February 3, which is the one that has the late fee on it.”

February 3? I’m sorry… I didn’t receive a ticket on February 3. If I had, I sure would have been a lot more cautious about my parking habits on February 6. That, or I would have been a lot more angry with myself for allowing myself to receive two parking citations within a week of each other. I said $20 isn’t bad to pay for a parking ticket… But it’s not like I can afford to just throw 20-dollar bills at Park Roanoke every couple of days.

I swear there was no little yellow envelope under my windshield wiper on February 3. There wasn’t one waiting for me when I came out to my car on February 4. If there had been, why wouldn’t I have paid it right away, like I did with the ticket I got on the 6th? Who makes a conscious decision to pay one ticket but not the other? Oh, I’ll pay this one at regular price, but I might as well wait until this one is overdue so I can throw away another $15. Makes perfect sense to me.

“Well, I don’t know what to tell you, Mr. Peck. We have a picture of the citation on your car dated February 3.”

Oh, you have a picture. That explains everything then. Do you have a picture of anyone coming along and just swiping the ticket out from under the windshield wiper? That’s not exactly the most secure location to place a ticket. No… There’s no picture of anyone taking the envelope from my windshield. Why would there be? There’s no surveillance on the cars parked on the street.

What are my options? Right, I have none. I can’t appeal it because, well, they have a picture. Do I have a picture of my citation-less windshield from the following day? Of course I don’t. Maybe I should start taking daily pictures of my car whenever I go out to it in the morning, just to show that I don’t have citation. That way if this ever happens again, I can use their argument against them. “Well, I don’t know what to tell you Mr. Park. I have a picture of nothing on my car.”

Feature Photo by Erik Mclean: https://www.pexels.com/photo/parking-ticket-behind-the-windshield-wipers-12641792/


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