This last week, driving my car has cost approximately $7.50 a gallon. I blame this entirely on the (un) fair city of downtown Salt Lake. I can drive in my little suburb for a fraction of this price. But when I want to do something, uh, not entirely lame, I MUST PAY!
Imagine if you will: A beautiful early spring morning outside the truly exquisite downtown Salt Lake City library, where I am planning to meet fabulous writers Sara Z. and Anne B. They’ve planned a write-in of serious proportions, a regular Electric Boogaloo for creative minds, and they’ve invited ordinary writers to join them. Enter, me. I am nothing if not ordinary! Throughout the afternoon, I enjoy the company of these delightful authors while scribbling in my notebook (because, while I actually own a laptop, I sometimes prefer to go it old-school). I also feed my parking meter religiously.
Does it do any good? No. Because when the day is done a Pepto-pink sheet of paper is under my windshield. It’s a very pricey notice that I do not have a front license plate and this, apparently, is against Utah state law. Who knew?
Flash forward to the next week. The Cool Writers are having a luncheon, and they’ve once again invited the Ordinary Writers. Yea! It’s like back in high school when the popular girl finds out you’re dying of a mysterious illness and so she’s super-nice to you out of pity (okay, so that’s never actually happened to me, it’s from an episode of Dawson’s Creek, but you get the idea). The lunch rocks. Cool people abound. Someone eats a massive Cobb salad. We order every dessert on the menu. And I show off my street-smarts!
After lunch, I find my car in the massive parking structure adjacent to the restaurant. I give the very old, very British parking attendant my validation. He says I still owe him a dollar. I do not have a dollar. I do not carry cash. I mean, seriously, what year is this, 1983? Nobody carries cash anymore! Likewise, I do not use checks. But they accept only cash and checks. Meanwhile, a line of cars is forming behind me. I politely ask if I can take perhaps mail in a check to pay my debt. The man says no. The man says he can’t let me out, because a dollar is just too, too important to gloss over. He gets out of his booth and makes all the cars behind me back up. “Come back when you have more validation,” he says. I try to park, remember where I parked, find something I need from some store, and buy it all before my hour’s up and I need to pay another dollar/validation. Usually I peruse bookstores. Not today. I grab a book that looks good and rush out of the parking lot, and hour and twenty dollars behind schedule.