Maxed out 

A parallel parking strategy that works


"I like my women like I like my beer: cheap and easy."

Forgettable Country & Western song.

Cheap and easy has - at least in North American - been raised beyond being simply a lifestyle mantra, raised perhaps to the level of quasi-deity. If it's cheap and easy, we want it, accept it, tolerate it, eat it up... and want more of it. Our appetite for cheap and easy is insatiable.

Sure, there are people who fight selective battles against cheap and easy, even people who trade one off against the other by, for example, baking bread - really cheap but far from easy. Or skinning up Whistler to save the price of a day ticket.

And there are those rare few, generally in the upper snack bracket incomewise, who prefer to pay more rather than less because doing so stokes their self-esteem fires. These are the exceptions that prove the rule though. The rest of us are the rule.

Cheap and easy was given full voice in the recent dust-up over pay parking. Something "free" was being taken away from us. Of course, pay parking isn't free but illusion is often better than reality. If you don't believe me, check out the stats on lottery ticket sales when the jackpot climbs north of 10 million bucks.

During the pleasantly boisterous council meeting two weeks ago, cheap and easy found its most forceful voice not at the microphone open to the outraged public but at a microphone on the staff table. At a meeting where someone had been thoughtful enough to circulate the most recent figures on staff compensation - up 12.8 per cent overall year over year - a general manager who shall remain nameless and whose remuneration runs handsomely to six figures, responded thusly when asked whether it would be possible to impose pay parking on the spots at muni hall staff now freely enjoy. "Yes... but we'd just go park across the street in Lot 4." The quote may not be exact but it closely captures the actual words and exactly captures the peevish tone.

Sure, take our free parking away from right in front of our offices and we'll simply park across the street for free, notwithstanding pulling down 150 grand a year. There, in a nut's shell, is the sense of entitlement that fuelled the anger in the general public. Implementing pay parking is taking something away that we have, if not as a right, then certainly as an entitlement. The people doing the implementing didn't appreciate that when it wasn't their free parking they were taking away. You don't miss your water....

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