Now I’m really mad about the $23 parking!

Back at the beginning of the month, as I ranted about, I had to go to the Hennepin County Government Center to apply for a duplicate title for my car.

Joy of joys, through the ineptitude of various government agencies (and/or specific employees therein — and believe me, I want to believe in good, efficient government, so it pains me to have cause for criticism), I had to go back today to apply to have my application expedited (now? after 4 weeks?) because for whatever reason, it hasn’t been processed yet.

This time I did not park in the privately operated parking garage directly across from the government center. I parked in a city-operated garage right next to it. The two are physically connected. I had to walk approximately a total of 100 extra feet, indoors, as a result of this parking choice.

The city garage charges $1.50 per half hour. I was there for an hour and a half, so I paid $4.50. But if I had been there for three hours, as I was during my trip downtown at the beginning of this month, it would have cost $9. $9, instead of $23. So for the convenience of avoiding a few extra steps of walking, and the privilege of feeding your money into a talking machine (it’s the wave of the future!) instead of interacting with an actual human at the exit of the garage, the private company charges a premium of $14 for three hours of parking.

Maybe the government isn’t so bad after all.

Speaking of the government being bad or not, on the way to the car I saw one of my favorite old Skyway buskers — the guy who looks and sounds vaguely like a mustachioed José Feliciano. He was singing an original composition, “Let’s All Throw Our Shoes at the President.” Now that’s something I’d have paid $23 for.

I’m “The Dude”

I had a real life Big Lebowski moment today.

I was driving the kids to Como Zoo. We had just pulled into the right-turn lane from Snelling onto Midway, when some (pardon) asshole in a car next to us threw a lit cigarette butt through my window. It hit me right in the head!

I had to pull over quickly and locate the butt, since it was still smoldering. It had fallen down into the plastic well on the floor between my door and seat. There were unburned shreds of tobacco on my shirt and shorts, and the car still smelled of cigarette smoke when we returned from the zoo two hours later!

The fury I was feeling at that moment was quickly offset by my overwhelming sense of pride over the astounding parallel parking job I did when we got to the park. As usual on summer weekends, especially when the weather is nearly ideal, as it was today, parking spaces were scarce in Como Park. I managed to locate a very tight space, most certainly available simply because no one was brave enough to attempt to sqeeze in.

Now I am no great parallel parker. In fact, when I took my driving test at age 16 I got perfect scores on everything except the parallel park and hill park, both of which I failed completely (that is, zero points). Luckily it all came out in the wash and I still got my license without having to retake the test. Here we are 16 years later, and even now I get nervous when the need arises to parallel park. Fortunately, several years of living and driving in large cities have forced me to improve my skills… somewhat.

I went for it. And I made it. Sure I bumped the truck behind me a few times, but that’s what bumpers are for! In the end I was nestled tightly with about 4 inches of space on either side. I had to climb across my hood to get over to the passenger side of the car, before I realized that next time it would be easier to just go around the truck parked behind me.

I was so impressed with myself, I had to take a picture.

Parallel parking gets pwned!

Fortunately, by the time we left, both vehicles surrounding us were already gone, and their replacements gave us plenty of maneuvering room.

Addendum (July 10, 2006) — I’ve been thinking about this more, and I believe I have my Big Lebowski reference wrong in a number of key ways. First off, I knew from the beginning that a few points were different: I wasn’t holding a roach clip in one hand and a beer in the other, and I didn’t crash my car while trying to retrieve the flaming butt from my crotch. (Boy, that sounds worse than it is.) But now that I think about it, I don’t recall whether the aforementioned “flaming butt” was thrown in his window by a passing vehicle, or whether it was his own, and he was just a poor shot. I’ll have to watch the DVD again to refresh my memory.

Now it Smells Like Fish and Roses!

(The title of this particular rant is, of course, the line spoken by a smart-ass bratty kid in a 1980s TV commercial for some kind of air freshener product, or possibly that powder you shake onto the carpet and then vacuum up. Her mother had cooked fish for dinner, and then attempted, futilely, to cover the stale cooked-fish smell with a “rosy” spray air freshener, prompting this clever quip from her daughter. If you can identify the product it was for, please let me know!)

I hate the smell of cigarette smoke. It was around me perpetually when I was growing up, and while I bear absolutely no grudge against my parents or my deceased grandparents as a result, I still find the smell highly objectionable.

I know I am not alone in my dislike of this smell. How can I be, when so many people — especially women — attempt to cover their own smoke smell with generous dousings of perfume and/or cologne? Here is the crux of my rant for today.

I work on the 25th floor of an office building, and I typically park on the 6th floor of its parking deck. (For my friends back in Minnesota, that’s Southern for “parking ramp” and for those in California, “parking structure.”) Hence, I take at least four rides in an elevator daily while I am at work (my attempts to be healthier by getting off at the 20th floor and walking up five flights notwithstanding).

It seems to me that, without fail, on at least one of those rides the elevator is filled with a noxious cloud produced by the combination of cigarette smoke lingering on a person’s clothes, mixed with excessive quantities of disgustingly potent perfume applied in a feeble attempt to mask the first smell. Let me say to all of you who attempt such things (as if there’s even an infinitessimal chance that one of you is reading this):

IT DOESN’T WORK!

The perfume does not mask the cigarette smell. It just makes it worse. And believe me, it stays around long after you’re gone. So do us all a favor… quit smoking. Then you won’t need the nasty perfume, either.