Thursday, July 24, 2008

REINVENTING THE PARKING METER! In theory, this is a great idea. In the old days, as we all know, every car was the same size and every man, woman and child wore one of those Good Humor-truck-driver clinky-clinky change-maker thingies on his or her belt. Today, nobody can find two nickels to rub together but we all carry around dozens of credit cards.

So, quite logically, we now have meters that take either cash or credit cards and print out dashboard receipts to allow free-form parking (a block might accommodate 20 Smart cars or three Hummers). So far, so good.

Anyone tried to use one of them? I have, in Washington and Miami Beach and New Orleans and New York, and guess what: They never work. The interface is impossibly complicated, but even once you get past that ... they never work, at least not with plastic. No matter what credit card I slide in, no matter in what city, whatever meter I choose is UNABLE TO READ CARD. The last time this happened, at 72nd Street and Broadway in New York, I then tried to use quarters and the coin slot was jammed.

This can't be happening only to me. Can it?

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