Help Me, hangTag – I’m Stuck in a Parkade with a Ten Dollar Bill

I prefer street parking.

No concrete, minus the curb. Those quaint parking metres? Accepting all forms of payment. Impark’s hangTag app. Love it. Forget the long lines. So long, waiters!

But parkades? They’re basically jails for vehicles.

In a previous post, I wrote about my fears: tornadoes, bees, and underground parkades. It’s parkades, period. Under or over. If vehicles were meant to be stacked, they’d have Lego on their roofs.

Last month, I was late for a routine appointment with my epileptologist. Technically, I was on time, but I couldn’t find street parking. Time dwindled, I was forced into a six-floor dungeon. The Emily Street parkade.

Maybe it had five or seven floors. I wasn’t going to count.

The clearance bar seemed so low, I ducked while entering. Driving at the pace of a turtle with a broken leg, I parked on the second floor. Or first. They label parkade levels weird. I rushed to my appointment. Then, I rushed back through falling snow to escape.

The pay station was in the basement aka ground level. Isn’t that like calling a napkin a bath towel?

A pay station is a simple concept. Pop in your ticket, pay the fee… a smidge over two hours tallied $8.70. No comment. And you know “no comment” means there’s a comment and it’s not appropriate.

That particular pay station accepted only 1980s-style payment: Visa, MasterCard, and cash. Surprisingly, no cheques. Debit? Ah, that’s cute. I pulled out a five dollar bill, and then I saw the sign. A real sign, not the song.

“This machine cannot accept bills at this time. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

Meh, no problem. In went my debit card.

“Cannot process payment.”

Right. Only Visa, MasterCard, and cash. I forgot with the stress from hearing the creaking with vehicles entering and exiting parkade. Can’t moisture from the snow soften concrete?

In went my MasterCard. Out came my MasterCard.

“Cannot process payment.”

That’s impossible! Because I just received an alert on my mobile saying the payment went through, you little theft. I tried again – I don’t recommend doing this unless you have zero choice. Again, “Cannot process payment.”

Visa. It accepts Visa. I don’t have a Visa. But I have Visa Debit. Which I tried out of pure desperation. Visa Debit cards don’t have a chip. But they have a strip.

The pay station hesitated, and I thought, “It’s working!” No, the machine was probably thinking “Are you kidding?” before spitting out the card.

Then, aha! I remembered there was another pay station on the first floor. I almost left a note for the next payee, “Save yourself! Go to the first floor,” but all I had was an unchecked lottery ticket from 2017. I thought leaving false hope in a parkade would be cruel.

I bypassed the elevators and raced to the stairs. I’m also not a fan of elevators. Close proximity. Sharing air. Touching icky buttons that someone probably licked. You’ll think twice next time, won’t you?

The first floor pay station was fully operational! I popped in my five dollar bill. Pushed a loonie into the coin slot, followed by my endless coin collection.

One time, I paid almost five dollars worth of parking with quarters, dimes, and nickels. The pay station at the St. Boniface Hospital was practically hoarse from saying, “Please insert payment.”

Back to the dungeon:

A coin was rejected. But I kept shovelling in the change until I hit lint. I was 10 cents short. Luckily, the rejected coin was a dime, and I tossed the 10er into the slot. But, no deal. And clang.

Well damn.

An American dime. Same size but lighter than the Canadian dime and refused by vending machines from coast to coast to coast. Ten cents prevented me from fleeing.

Now, came the tough part. I had a $10 bill from days of yore – or circa 2016. I wanted out, but whoa, let’s not go crazy. One does not break a 10 dollar bill due to an American dime.

It was Franklin D. Roosevelt verses Sir. John A. MacDonald. Showing the age of the bill, since Viola Desmond graces our modern $10 notes. I wasn’t going down without a fight! It was me verses a pay station!

I slowly dropped the dime into the slot. No. Then I tried a little hop. Think coin basketball. Or water pong.

While battling the seven-foot, slot-faced bandit, a woman came up behind me.

“Don’t you hate these things?” she said as I slammed that dime over and over into the pay station a gambler who thinks Vegas closes.

“Yes, especially when they don’t cooperate.” Yes, I talk to strangers. Defeated, I turned to her. “Would you have a Canadian dime? Mine’s American, and the machine won’t accept American coins.”

She laughed and opened her wallet. “Let’s see what I have.” She had only one dime. We giggled, and I swapped my 13 cents for her 10 cents. I shot the in dime and … ding, ding! We have a winner!” I practically hugged her, and I grabbed my “Get out of parkade free” card.

I raced to my vehicle, jumped in, and fled like the wind.

Problem was, when I arrived at the gate of freedom, I had to insert my parking ticket. Normally, I don’t have an issue reaching the intake slot from my vehicle. But that particular morning, I re-adjusted my seat. I’m not short, but I have short legs. While they need to touch the pedals, I can’t be too close to the steering wheel. That morning, I was too far from both.

I popped the vehicle into park and stepped outside. Insert, accepted, and the bar rose. I scampered into the vehicle, quickly re-adjusted my seat, and then I pressed the gas. It sounded like Sunday Cruise Night pressed their gas pedals in unison.

I forgot the vehicle was in park.

Regardless, as I rolled out of the parkade, I thought about the chain of events. What if I’d been on time for my appointment? What if my appointment was shorter? And if I went straight to the first floor pay station, and that woman hadn’t been behind me? And I waved the white flag and used the 10 dollar bill?

That’s taking the easy route. I like a challenge.

But next year? I’m checking all my change.

Photo credits: Pixabay