She Didn't Have A Minute To Spare ...

Actually it was 8 minutes and it cost $15.

Last week I took a drive to . I couldn’t find any free 2-hour spots along Elm Street, or on Main Street near the . So I rather than keep trolling for a spot, I decided to park in the municipal lot behind .

I grabbed a handful of quarters from my stash and went to pre-pay at the automatic parking kiosk. I dutifully entered my parking space number, inserted quarters and out popped my receipt. I paid for slightly less than two hours.

After spending time leisurely browsing at the , and splurging on Nathaniel Philbrick’s ‘Why Read Moby Dick’ (lately I have shipwrecks on my mind, but that’s another story) I popped into and grabbed a cup coffee to go. Then I walked around, took a look at .

Finally, it was time to return to my car and head home. My break had lasted long enough. I got to the lot and stopped. There was the man in uniform no one wants to see – the parking enforcer. I saw the telltale ticket fluttering against my windshield. For a minute I thought maybe I had made a mistake. Maybe I was supposed to have put my receipt under the windshield wiper (it’s been a while since I’ve parked in that lot). I approached the officer.

“Did I get a ticket? I paid for a spot – was I supposed to leave it on the window?” I asked.

“Oh, no. Let me see. Please don’t make me feel bad, tomorrow is my birthday,” the officer answered.

He studied my ticket.

“You were eight minutes over,” he said.

What? Make him feel bad for giving me a ticket? Shouldn’t I be the one feeling bad? It cost me $15 for those 8 minutes – or $1.875 a minute to be exact. (I know, I used my calculator.)

I know the officer was simply doing his job. In fact, he was so polite and nice about everything that I found myself feeling sorry for him, and actually thanked him as he handed me my ticket.

When I got home I looked at the ticket and saw that you can supposedly pay online. That’s cool, paperless. So I logged on to the town's website, entered my ticket number and license plate number. Nothing.

Hmmmm. Okay, maybe it was too soon. I few hours later I tried again. Supposedly persistence pays off, but after getting an error message for what seemed like the zillionth time (but was really only the thirtieth time) I decided to go the old fashioned route. I took out my checkbook, and stuffed that and the ticket in the mail.

I know that at the train station if you park 5 minutes before 9 a.m. at the $4 spots you get ticketed $50.

In Fairfield, parking tickets range between $25 and $85. Tickets must be paid within 10 days of the date issued or additional penalties can result. They can be paid by logging onto http://fpdct.com/site/special-services/parking-tickets.html#fines

The town of offers a detailed explanation about parking permits and payment, but nowhere does it mention a grace period. The same goes for Darien.

I understand the need to enforce parking. I understand the concept of pay for space. But 8 minutes? Isn’t there something called a grace period? Would 10 – 15 minutes be too much?  Do any towns in Fairfield County give a grace period? No. No grace.

Patrick Barnard February 11, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Try parking in South Norwalk... I went to the Burger Bar one day last year, used on the street parking... came back to my car literally two minutes after the meter expired and I already had a ticket. Turns out the enforcement officer was sitting in his car, just waiting for my meter to run out. One of the downsides to strict municipal parking enforcement is that it can have a negative impact on merchants: Once someone gets a ticket in this manner, they may never come back to that area again... so guess who also loses?
Leslie Yager February 11, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Always feel bad sidewalk sales. Come to Greenwich for a bargain, park on a side street w/ residential parking. Get $55 ticket! When we first moved to downtown greenwich, tickets were $15! Now that's inflation!


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