Temporal Divergence: C.

A Time Warp Series

A dew covered car on a foggy morn in a meter zone on Lake Street under the L. A dreaded orange and white parking ticket ever so thoughtfully placed, nestled under the wiper blade.

I had to wonder – with the pay-for-parking app so readily available, how can this still happen? The app sends you alerts on when the time is about to expire. No matter where you’re at you can replenish the funds and extend the time.

I suppose if you were sitting in Cook County Jail, maybe you wouldn’t be able to use your phone. Or maybe even if you had a burner phone, sitting in jail, a parking ticket might not be the first thing on your radar. Or maybe if you died, that could be a reasonable explanation. The latter scenario crops up in propensity the more tickets accumulate on a windshield. Sun bleached and rain soaked, along with the inevitable boot, the sight always lets you know the owner is never coming back for it.

Either way I’m warp zoned back to the days when you’d have to remember everything. Where you were parked (which seems obvious now, but before GPS, um, sometimes this was an issue), but also the time your meter was going to expire. The temporary window you had available where perhaps the parking zone was cost-free.

Maybe you have to wake up at 6:45 on a Saturday just to go out and move your car before 7 AM.

Perhaps you need to run a quick errand and you park in a pay zone without paying, readily calculating the weighted odds of getting a potential citation.

Neighborhood N, at X time of day yields an estimated 20% chance of getting a $50 ticket?

N = (.2 x $50)

N = $10.00

Was it worth ten dollars to run in to a coffee shop and not have to deal with the hassle of paying the meter? Sometimes. Honestly, usually. To be frank, it mainly mattered how hungover I was.

I remember in my friend calling me once to ask if I could locate his car somewhere in Lakeview. To venture through the snow to add quarters to his meter because he was, well, I don’t really know where he was. Maybe he was in Cook County jail and that was his one phone call.

Of course I obliged. What did I have going on at the time? Just another aspect of living solo in the city in the mid-2000s.

I pass the ticketed morning car under the Green Line on my way to work. We’ve all been there.

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