Saturday, October 9, 2010

No Hypocrisy Here

Sometimes it's all in the engineering: what you get is what you asked for in the design.

Consider a building in St. Paul. It has its own private street off the public street, taking you toward the river which the building faces, then across the front and across its parking lot, then back to the main street. Think of a "C" with squared corners. There's plenty of visitor parking spaces in the front row of the parking lot, each with its own private parking meter.

From there one walks to the corner of the parking lot, and up a path winding prettily through trees, then along the front of the building to the center door. If you are lucky enough to get a close parking spot, your one-way jaunt is about a city block, and you're paying for the privilege. Plenty of incentive to park there, right?

If one considers just the front of the building, it has a large, 3-car-wide semicircular driveway that gets you much closer to the front door, although they still have quite a sizable plaza out front to cross to reach the door. Most people love to park there for the short time it takes them to run inside and pay their utility bill or order a change in service. And since this building houses a very popular utility, though I'm not naming names, it gets a lot of walk-in business.

They try to discourage parking in front. There used to be "No Parking" signs across both sides of the driveway. Recently they changed them to "Fire Zone. No Parking, No Holding. No Sitting." The message is very clear. The response to it isn't. Or rather, it is clearly ignored. This company's customers plainly go for the user-friendly option, so much so that I occasionally have problems finding myself a space in the semicircle when I go in to pick up a package from them. This involves a further walk, once inside, past the bill-paying section, past the guard desk, past the elevators, to the front office tucked way in back. And out again.

Yesterday I got curious. Since the guard had greeted me in a friendly fashion as I walked in, and not the "I see you doing something I don't like" fashion that many use, I stopped on my way out. (It was only partly to lean on his counter and rest the knees a tad.) I wondered aloud if they ever ticketed the vehicles sitting out in the fire zone? He answered, "No."

I guess my surprise showed in my doing that raised-eyebrow thing, because he went on to explain. "I don't bother anybody parked out there because the police and the fire departments park out there and run in to pay their bills just like everybody else. The firemen even come and park in their fire trucks!" (One would hope it's not on their way to a fire.) "If they can do it, you can do it."

Ah, well, no hypocrisy here, then.

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