Tag Archives: life

Beaten by a Parking Meter

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.

The uninviting seaside at Rehoboth Beach. A coffee in a café was called for.
The uninviting seaside at Rehoboth Beach. A coffee in a café was called for.

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.

A view of the beach in Rehoboth Beach, Delawar...

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?”

parking meter
parking meter (Photo credit: Slideshow Bruce)

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.”

A view of the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach, Del...

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.

Be Careful How You Live Your Life!

How will you be remembered?

Not like this I hope!

Boot Hill Cemetary, Dodge City, Kansas

Here:

Boot Hill Cemetary, Dodge City, Kansas

“Weep not for us who early made our beds,

Wrapped in our blankets, saddles for our heads,

We tamed the west when this, our land, was young,

And sank into our graves unknown – unsung!”

Gunned down in the saloon:

Dodge City, Kansas

In Dodge City:

Dodge City, Kansas

A Fruitless Quest for Perfection

“Are you enjoying this weather?”

My first thought was that she was being sarcastic, but her sweet open face and tidy grandmotherly hairdo belied that notion. “Well, no,” I replied cautiously. “I’d like it to be a bit warmer.”

“Are you from here?”

“No. Baltimore.”

“Well we just love it here. We’re from Georgia and it’s so hot there.”

“Oh, that explains it. You must be enjoying the cool weather.” We were camped just south of Duluth. It was a 60° and cloudy in July – not the best summer weather in my view, and in winter five feet of snow can arrive all at once, all in one day. Sorry, Duluth. Can’t say I’ll be exploring your charms any further.

Summer sunset near Duluth
Summer sunset near Duluth

And that, my friends, is a perfect example of why we have been on a wild goose chase looking for a perfect place to live.

Because we’ve been talking to people.

What you already have – curly hair, skinny legs, a home in the South – is not necessarily what you want. What someone else wants – straight hair, big boobs, a home where it snows in winter – isn’t necessarily what you want.

What Jimmy thinks he wants is not necessarily what I want. And what we both think we want or someone else thinks we‘d like, we don’t want when we get there and see it. It’s too congested or too rural, too busy or too slow, too tired and seedy or too brand new and characterless. I despair.

So let’s review that list of requirements for a perfect place again:

  • Ÿ  somewhere not too hot, too cold, too wet or too dry
  • Ÿ  no spiders, no mosquitoes or other hideous insects
  • Ÿ  no snakes, no bears
  • Ÿ  no tornadoes
  • Ÿ  no hurricanes
  • Ÿ  no floods
  • Ÿ  no earthquakes
  • Ÿ  no tsunamis
  • Ÿ  no volcanoes
  • Ÿ  no deep snow
  • Ÿ  no humidity
  • Ÿ  no wild fires
  • Ÿ  a low cost of living
  • Ÿ  an ocean or gulf view (yes, realize that eliminates all but 21 states)

    Gulf of Mexico from the Panhandle of Florida
    Gulf of Mexico from the Panhandle of Florida
  • Ÿ  a mountain view would be nice, too

    Mountains bathed in sunset light viewed from the warmth of a desert climate
    Mountains bathed in sunset light viewed from the warmth of a desert climate

To this list I’ll now add:

  • Ÿ  no cattle grids on the interstate ramps (too high chaparral)
  • Ÿ  nowhere that traffic on the interstate is the main topic on the local news
  • Ÿ  not on a road called Skunk Hollow
  • Ÿ  no mudslides
  • Ÿ  on second thought, no spiders (above) would certainly eliminate all 50 states so will modify that to no tarantulas or giant arachnids. That might eliminate Florida so I won’t tell Jimmy if I see one. In fact Florida has all manner of shocking creatures, but humans are probably the worst (humans in general, not Floridians in particular) and we can’t get away from them.
  • Ÿ  not in a town where the local library sees fit to display a “No Guns” sign listing the pertinent ordinances in case you want to argue the point
  • Ÿ  near a major airport to take a teeny bit of stress off trips back to Blighty
  • Ÿ  not where we would ever, ever have to use the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River in New York City ever, ever again. Others shudder when you mention it to them and Jimmy pales and starts to tremble.
  • Ÿ  nowhere that you can buy just guns, musical instruments, jewelry and car audio in the same store
  • Ÿ  that no hurricane and no tsunami thing might eliminate all the ocean and gulf coasts so I’ll choose to ignore the discrepancy for now.
  • Ÿ  I’d like to say not within 50 miles of a taxidermist but I don’t think that’s going to happen.
  • Ÿ  not in a town where the gun store sells gator meat, hog traps and fresh frogs legs.
  • Ÿ  not in a town with a gun store at all. It may be very un-American of me to not want to have anything to do with a gun but I’d like to live somewhere that I don’t feel the need to have one about my person or home.
  • Ÿ  nowhere that we’d be dependant on using an Interstate daily as one third of Americans are. They’re a generally a mess – busy and bumpy.

Should we abandon the quest and the list and just live near one of my brothers so we’d at least have family nearby?

That would be Florida which falls foul of many of the items on the above list.

Or under the unending grey skies of Washington State (at least when we lived there) where when Mount Rainier is uncloaked it is event to be remarked upon and pointed out. “Look! Rainier’s out!!”

Mt. Rainier making one of its rare appearances
Mt. Rainier making one of its rare appearances

Fourteen and a half thousand feet of geographical wonder, which when the sky is clear is visible all up and down the Puget Sound, is usually hidden from view under a thick veil of cotton wool. Look at a U.S. weather map and you will invariably see a swirl of muck over the top left corner of Washington. The Puget Sound and Mt. Rainier are under there.

Jimmy is really no help at all. He wants to blow the house fund on a big motorhome.