Predatory Garage

07. Mar. 2018

The first obstacle to attending the Norfolk Public Library Local Authors Fair was parking in the Main Street Garage.  We pulled in that Saturday morning around 9:30. The garage has a system which works by a driver pressing a green button, a device then ejects a time and date stamped ticket, the restraining arm goes up, and the driver can go in.

What I did not know is that there is a time limit to this.  If you press the button, and the ticket spits out, you must take the ticket within a limited number of seconds, or the restraining gate will not rise.

I was not fast enough.  But I did not know you could simply repeat the ritual, retain the second ticket, and – if you were quick enough – be rewarded with the rise of the restraining arm.

I saw an attendant and flagged her, whereupon she motioned and went the other way.  I sat waiting for about two minutes, then engaged the horn on my stunningly loud Ford Focus.  Quickly, the attendant appeared, repressed the button, took the ticket and handed it to me, the restraint rose, and I was able to enter the garage.

The Main Street Garage was not through with me, however.

Later that evening, upon exit, I could not reach the exit slot into which I had to enter my ticket to leave.  It seems most of the various slots on the exit machinery are designed to be operated from monster trucks.  The obvious solution is to stop well back of the machine, walk up, conclude business, watch the arm rise, get back in the nearby car and drive through. 

The exit designers had anticipated this.  The machinery will not work unless the car is pulled up parallel to the device, as monitored by a sensor in the pavement alongside the exit automaton.

So, my wife exited the car, I pulled up, she squeezed between the car and the leering machinery, placed the ticket – which had been validated by Norfolk Public Library – into the slot, the gate lifted, I drove through, the wife joined me on the other side.

Sunday morning, it took me two tries, but I foiled the entrance monitor and got in with relative ease.  The garage, as I would learn later, apparently took notice.

When we attempted to leave, we executed our Saturday method, but when the wife inserted the ticket – which again, had been validated by Norfolk Public Library – the screen showed “Ticket not valid for exit – press help”.  I had a downed gate in front of me, and two other people wanting to exit (did I note that only one exit lane was open?) behind me.  I was trapped.

We hit the help button, which phoned someone, who spoke to us through a speaker, and decided there was something wrong with our ticket.  She advised we talk to the Norfolk Public Library.  Not great advice since I was blocking the only exit from the garage, and traffic was already backing up behind me.  We read her the numbers on the ticket, the time, the date, and offered to pay if she could tell us how much we owed and allow us to ransom our way out of the garage.  She phoned someone else.  That person had us try the ticket again.  Neither of the help people had ever heard of exactly the directions I was getting from the self-satisfied device’s screen.

We conversed for perhaps three minutes, until she asked me what lane I was in, and magically the restraining gate rose, I drove through, retrieved my wife, and we hurtled off into freedom.

We will stay clear of the Main Street Garage.  If we present at the Local Authors Fair next year, we will park at MacArthur Mall, pay the parking ourselves, feel safer.  Being eaten by a parking garage once is quite enough.  We feel lucky not to be sitting there now, ensnarled in the enmity of automation, machinery and concrete.

Ken Poyner - Predatory Garage
Ken Poyner - Predatory Garage

Ken Poyner's - Predatory Garage is about the future, which is now. The future is one where we all need s little coaching into whatever contraption big brother has thought of. Big brother is compassionate and wants to get paid too, just like the rest of us. But big brother hired his little brother who is on crack to engineer the fast paced, stuck on stupid, eschellon of goodness. Ken is letting us know that his journey is perhaps an excuse for automation or a retraction for luddites. What do you think?

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© Ken Poyner / OgFOMK ArTS -- 2018 All Rights Reserved. - "Predatory Garage"

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