Parking and Pain

I’m bound by duty after informing you, my blog readers, about the idyllic hotel and beach arrangements of Rehobeth to warn you about the parking conditions at the beach proper. I had a complete and utter meltdown just trying to park the car, and if I wasn’t scared of getting towed, I would have just taken a parking ticket and been done with it.

First, finding a parking spot was difficult, but that is to be expected on a Saturday night during peak season. I wasn’t bent out of shape about that. But, then I found a parking spot and the pain began. The parking meters at the beach will accept two forms of payment…quarters or pay by phone. I’ll like to register a formal complaint with the universe right now to say that anytime the charge for parking is more than 50 cents an hour, the parking meter should take paper money or credit cards. Seriously, who naturally carries several dollars worth of quarters with them at any time?

Since I was driving my new car, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to dig around in the car for enough quarters. I was going to need to pay by phone. I dialed the number on the meter and heard a ridiculously perky automated voice tell me, “Welcome to the parking system. Please get into your car to avoid background noise.”That was my first indication that things might go very, very bad.

I dashed back towards my car, which was three spots away from the meter with the number on it, trying to memorize my license plate number, unlock the car and dive in, all while listening to the perky voice plow right into her next set of directions.

She promised me it would be easy. All she needed was my license plate number and my credit card number. Except my license plate starts with FPB — yeah, only three of the hardest letters in the English language for a voice recognition system to distinguish.

So, I got in and gave my license number, “FPB.”

Perky voice: Let me repeat it for you – F as in foxtrot, V as in viola….Is that correct?

Me: No.

Perky voice: Let me try again. Did you say – F as in foxtrot, T as in turtle… Is that correct?

Me: No.

Perky voice: Ok, let’s try this one letter at a time. Please say the first letter of your license plate.

Me: F

Perky voice: Did you say S as in sailor?

Me: No — for crying out loud! Didn’t you know that it was F just a minute ago?

So, we tried one or two more times until Perky Voice told me I needed to go online. Um…online. Duh, Perky Voice, if I had a smart phone, I would have already gone to the website. I hung up, jumped out of the car to go get the number off the meter again (and, it’s occurring to me as I type that I could have just hit redial, but my brains were already starting to melt then), and got back in the car.

Then, during my next exchange with Perky Voice, my friends, who had already managed to park, texted, and the resulting noise on the phone distracted Perky Voice. I dashed off a quick text saying not to contact me under any circumstances again. like. never; I would be coming. Then, I called Perky Voice back again.

By the time one of my friends came back to the car, she found me in flight between the parking meter in the car…again. Then, she got to stand outside witnessing the devolution of the situation until the conversation was going like this.

Perky Voice: Did you say Z as in zebra?

Me (yelling): NOOOOO.

Perky Voice: Did you say O as in octopus?

Me. NO! Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Perky Voice: Did you say E as in elephant?

Me: No! NO! I said E. Wait, no B. I said B. AH, I don’t even know what state I’m from anymore!

Finally, another kind, kind friend who put up with me yelling at her on the phone while she tried to establish where I was parked brought some quarters. It was not a pretty sight. So, by all means, visit Rehobeth, but do not — I repeat, do not try to use the parking meters if you have PMS. As a matter of fact, don’t ever try to use the parking meters. Just take quarters…many, many quarters. And, if you see any woman in a sundress running between her car and the parking meter, calmly leave some quarters on the sidewalk at a safe distance from her. Direct interaction is not recommended, but you might be saving a life.