Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stuck in a Parking Lot in New Jersey

Now this is something that doesn't happen every day, thankfully.  Easter Sunday my wife and I returned to New Jersey on the second last train from Manhattan, having just seen our son and future daughter-in-law backing up Tiffany at BB King's on Times Square.  It had been a great day in an amazing city.  It was 1 am and the parking garage was seemingly deserted.  We were on the third floor of a concrete maze. 

I inserted my ticket into the machine to pay and it was rejected.  I tried it again.  Rejected.  I tried two different machines with the same result.  Nothing.  My mind was kicking into gear.  How are we going to get out if we don't have a paid ticket to raise the barricade?  I had visions of blasting through the barricade with a knife brandishing New Jersey gang hot on our tail.

There is a button on the machines to call the parking attendant.  Tried that.  No answer.  In fact, I pressed the button on all three machines and I could hear them all ringing.  Now my mind was really starting to react.  This IS New Jersey, after all.  Feeling vulnerable?  Yeah, just a bit. 

There was a police call box on the wall, which was comforting, but we decided to go down to the first floor to see if we could find someone.  I went to the attendant's booth where there was a sign that read, "Back in Ten Minutes".  Could this get any worse?  I went to another machine and tried the ticket, only to be rejected again.  I hammered on the door to see if he was sleeping in the back.  Who knew how long the "ten minute" sign had been there?  No reaction.  I pressed the call button just so I could have the satisfaction of hearing yet another phone dialing.  At least it created a sound.  The parking lot had been - dare I say it - tomb-like to that point.

Finally, about twenty minutes later I saw someone strolling down the ramp from the second floor.  I tensed until I could see who it was.  It was the attendant who had been making his rounds. I explained the problem and he apologized and tried the ticket.  Nothing.  He tried a new ticket.  He said, "it won't be more than $5".  "Uh, no it won't", I said.  The maximum at night was $2 and with the mood I was in, he was seriously in danger of being stuffed into the nearest garbage can.  Then I realized I probably wouldn't be able to do that since the garbage can was likely already full of tourists who had been trapped in the garage on previous nights. I also realized that if I did that, we still wouldn't be able to get out!

"Okay", he said with a shrug.  "The system is down".  Really!!??  Who knew?  After trying a series of new tickets, he finally got one to work and the barricade miraculously rose.  There were a few other cars waiting in the parking lot for their unsuspecting passengers who would be equally aggravated by the experience they had awaiting them.  I think the parking lot attendant's night was about to become his worst nightmare when the last train arrived.

"Have a good night" I said, cackling rather maniacally as we made our great escape into the New Jersey night. 


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