Today I wanted to help people avoid parking tickets by feeding their timed-out meters. Even on Fall weekdays, downtown Huntington Beach is always hopping with tourists and locals having lunch on Main Street. I have to agree with them that it’s a pretty awesome place to hang out and grab a bite. I mean, what’s not to love about being a block off the beach and having a variety of food genres to choose from?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t carry quarters around anymore. And while the parking meters downtown take credit cards, that would also be a hassle in large quantities of transactions. So I went to the bank to ask for a roll of quarters (probably for the first time in at least 15 or so years). The bank teller assumed I needed them to do laundry. His eyebrows shot up in surprise when I told him it was to feed other people’s parking meters.
I waited until 1 p.m. to hit Main Street with the thinking that for folks running behind on their lunch break, it would be the best time to swoop in and give them an extra 10 minutes on the meter. There was no parking on Main Street, so I parked on 5th. No sooner did I feed my own meter than I saw my neighbor’s meter was flashing red. So I dropped in a quarter.
Then the next car was also blinking red. I dropped a quarter in there.
Then the next car, and the next, and by the time I finished the whole block I thought to myself, “What are the odds? Huh. Guess it’s a good thing I decided to do this today.”
I rounded the corner and no one on Orange Street needed their meters fed. I stepped onto Main Street and from Orange all the way down to PCH, I fed about seven meters that were out. I then went back up the other side of Main until I got back to Orange with having fed probably another six or so.
When I went back down the other side of 5th, I started to put a quarter in the first car’s flashing red meter when my logical brain kicked in.
“Why would everyone on 5th not care about their parking meters when the police station is right there? That makes no sense.”
I looked at the meter and back at the car. I then looked down the row of cars and flashing red meters and noticed one commonality among all the cars. They had stickers in their lower driver-side windshields. I walked a few cars down and saw this:
I started laughing hysterically at myself. I am apparently very slow on the uptick. The City of Huntington Beach is another $6 richer. You’re welcome.
In the off chance some of the cars did need a quarter and didn’t have a sticker, I started walking full circles around them looking for stickers before dropping a quarter in.
For one particular red SUV, the owner walked up after I had finished a lap and asked, “Do you need my parking space or something?”
I laughed realizing I must look like I’m casing it and showed him my now almost empty roll of quarters and said, “I noticed your meter was out of time and I was going to feed it if you didn’t have a permit parking sticker.”
“OH, that’s very nice of you,” he said surprised. “Thank you! I knew my time was out but I couldn’t remember what street I parked on so I’ve been walking up and down looking for my car.”
“Glad you found it,” I said. “Have a nice day.”
“Hope you have a great day,” he replied.
Once I finished the roll of quarters, I got back in my car and drove home. I certainly helped less people than I thought I did, but that’s ok. Hopefully for one person it made a difference. If not, I got some exercise and a good laugh at my own expense. Cheers to trying something new and learning a little bit more about what my city offers in the way of making it easier on its residents.