Hi, my name is Jim, I Live in Park Slope, and I Own a Car

Three years ago, when my wife and I began dating, she would slog her brother’s pickup from Red Hook, where she lived, to Park Slope, where I lived, because her 100 pound Shepherd/Rotti mix was not permitted on the B61. Then, only two months into the relationship, long before I ever said, “I love you,” and while she was still a relatively poor law student, she bought the 1994 Honda Civic that we still have today. The car cost $2500. How she knew that I, at that stage of our relationship, a 43 year old confirmed bachelor, warranted such expenditure, is a testament to just how fantastic she is, how fortunate I am, and a post for another day. For today, the point is I own a car and I live in Park Slope.

(For those who don’t know, let me premise the following by saying that Park Slope and cars — or more specifically Park Slope and parking — go together as well as Rosie and The Donald. The neighborhood is nicknamed No-Park Slope. Google, Parking “Park Slope” and you’ll get no less than 284,000 hits.)

I use the car almost exclusively for work these days. My job entails a lot of driving and a lot of parking: metered parking, alternate side of the street parking, running into the office to get a set of apartment keys double parking, waiting in front of a fire hydrant to pick up the photographer parking, not knowing you left the car in front of a church or private school parking, coming back to your spot, finding your car missing, thinking it was stolen and finding out it was f$%#ing towed parking, amongst other categories of parking. Since the acquisition of the Honda, I have contributed inordinately to the city’s coffers – over $3,000 inordinately that is. And it is this fact that uniquely qualifies me to present you with the following revelations:

(Sadly, as I scribe this using Cafe Sutra‘s free WiFi, I have to run out to feed the meter…I’m back)

Parking Mantra: Be pessimistic.

Stop believing that life is fair, stop wishing things will work out, and stop hoping that maybe this time you won’t get a parking ticket. Face it – the city is on their game (I’m not happy about it, just stating the facts). Park illegally, give them the opportunity, and they will write you a ticket. My advice: prepare for the worst and have a plan. Read on.

The Tao of Parking: Take your time.

Relax, slow down and park the way God intended us to … legally. Give yourself a little extra time and you’ll be able to avoid parking where the city says you can’t. To demonstrate my point, the statisticians at From The Stoop, have carefully recorded empirical data over the last three years and have calculated the following:

  • You have a 31% chance of getting a ticket within 10 minutes of an expired meter.
  • The odds go up significantly after the 10 minute mark.
  • You will receive a ticket more often for not moving your car during alternate side of the street parking then any other violation. (Think of it this way, if the DOT hired you to catch fish (i.e. parking violators), and you knew that in a specific cove (i.e. block), of a specific lake (i.e. neighborhood), at 11:01 AM every Tuesday, you could catch no less than 11 lunkers, wouldn’t you fish there every Tuesday at 11:01 AM and take the rest of the day off?)
  • 23% of people will actually claim to observe the ticket being written and placed on their windshield.
  • 43% of the 23% mentioned above will claim to have told off the ticket writer.

Point is, relax, drive safely, drive slowly, and park legally.

Parking tip #1: Save your quarters.

Nough said.

Parking tip #2: Employ the Double Time rule.

Sub-tip 1: Fill the meter for twice the amount of time you expect to be there. It’s a lot cheaper then the ticket. (25 cents per one-half hour as of this writing.)

Sub-tip 2: Always double the estimated time it takes to get to your car. Car parked 5 minutes away? Give yourself 10.

Parking Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Forget…

Again, from empirically gathered data, I know that the number one cause of expired meter and alternate side of the street parking tickets is a lost track of time. Solution: set an alarm. If you’re high-tech, set a reminder in your Palm or Blackberry. Want to go low-tech,? Get an egg timer. And, just as importantly, don’t wait to set it or put it off because…you’ll forget! Don’t make, or return, or answer a phone call. Don’t run into the office to get out of the rain. Don’t reach into your ashtray for a quarter. Don’t do any of these things before you set the alarm – because if you do, (remember empirical data) you won’t set it. Always set the alarm first and then do the other things.

There’s more I could write (including how to fight your tickets online), but this is already a long post. Please forward your own parking tips my way. I still need all the help I can get. Thanks for reading, Jim.