Sometimes I feel we just don’t get out much. But when we do . . . .
This time, we stood scratching our heads in front of a pay-for-your-parking machine in the street at Rehoboth Beach.
Jimmy had parked opposite a likely looking bar called the Purple Parrot. “It says $1.50 an hour. If I put four quarters in that should give us time to get a cup of coffee across the street.” He put the four coins in and a digital screen asked us for our parking space number. Conveniently, the number was under the car.
Not sure who was at fault there – Jimmy for parking on it, or the man with his paint pot for putting the number in a dumb place. Jimmy entered the number of the space in front of us – which was empty – 43. A young man stood behind us, waiting his turn to pay.
“What do I do now?” Jimmy asked me.
“I don’t know. I haven’t got my glasses on.” Helpful as ever I bent over, squinted at the screen and shook my head to confirm my uselessness, too idle to root around in my handbag for my glasses. A young woman drifted up and stood behind the man. This put pressure on us to look like we knew what we were doing.
“I’m sorry to hold you up.”
“That’s OK.” The young man smiled at us, not a pitying smile, but a patient one.
We hunched together and muttered to each other in a vain attempt not to look stupid. “Where’s the ticket?” We were looking for the ticket for the windshield.
“I don’t know. Did you press enter?”
“Of course I did!”
“I can’t see where it comes out.”
At this point, both of us flummoxed, Jimmy had to abandon his man behavior and ask for help. He turned to the chap waiting behind us, “I’m sorry. Do you know how these things work?”
He grinned. “We have tech support right here.” He stepped aside and the young woman, apparently his girlfriend, came up to the screen and peered.
That was gratifying. He didn’t know how it worked either.
“Let’s see,” and she pressed the screen, “You’ve put in one dollar and you’ve got 38 minutes in space 43. She looked up to see the empty space 43 in front of us all. Again we got the patience-with-old-people smile.
“I’ll move the car,” Jimmy blurted, only too happy to exit the embarrassing situation. It seemed pointless trying to explain why we’d paid for an empty parking space. To their credit, neither of them seemed exasperated with us, especially when I said, just to confirm . . . confirm what . . . my cluelessness? “So there’s no ticket then.”
“No. It’s all computerized.”
I shrugged, grimaced and raised my eyebrows in a golly gee sort of way and said apologetically, “We don’t keep up,” while Jimmy moved the car from what I could now see was space 42. That would make sense as it was next to the two empty spaces 43 and 44 but we’d been too rattled to work that out.
Only 10 minutes of the already paid for 40 had been wasted.