The Road Less Parked On

The last month has been really exciting for Cognition. I’ve been meeting a lot of great people over coffee, finding outlets for all the caffeine jitters, and embarking on work with new clients. Then suddenly the holidays arrived, with over a month passing by since I last blogged. Looking back, I realize I encountered the same problem I’m trying to help other business owners with – finding time to balance existing work with ongoing marketing.

I intended to make that problem the focus of this reentry into blogging, until I encountered something even more problematic. That is, some of the unforeseen consequences of these coffee meetings. This can be best summed up by the impassioned plea I sent to a company called Parking Revenue Recovery, which I’m also hoping will help the ardent readers of this blog know I’m still alive and kicking. Check it out below:

Dear Parking Revenue Recovery,

I am writing in hopes that whomever is reading this had a joyous holiday that bestowed some compassion in their heart as I'd like to negotiate a parking penalty I accidentally incurred.

It all started when I formed my own writing business back in November. (If Parking Revenue Recovery ever wants an exposé on the plights of urban vehicle storage, just let me know!). No one told me that being a small business owner requires meeting strangers in coffee shops, which adds another element of uncertainty to the whole "making it on my own" thing. To try to mitigate this anxiety, I like to take my time to find each place, get a good parking spot, and choose a table where I can easily compare people’s faces with the Google+ thumbnail of the person I'm supposed to meet. I also like to prominently display my wedding ring as this comparison process has resulted in some seriously awkward moments.

Anyway, on this particular day I had never been to Stone Creek Coffee on N. 5th Street near the Milwaukee train station. To look the part of a writer, I was wearing dark jeans with suede boots, so you can imagine my dismay when it started to precipitate on the drive there. I pulled up and began looking for parking, driving past a parallel parking spot right in front before realizing nothing else was available. I decided that at least my boots wouldn’t be subjected to a far walk if I were to brave the public embarrassment of parallel parking the boat of a car my husband chose. But, in true urban fashion, the spot was already taken by the time I circled back.

I spent the next 15 minutes continuing to circle the block until I remembered that I'm a broke small business owner who shouldn't waste the gas. That's when I saw Lot # 25831658, as you describe it in your notice. True, there was a sign on the opposite corner that said "Public Parking - $8". But on my corner the scarce amount of cars didn't have payment tickets on their dashes, so it wasn't clear whether that sign applied or if there was no charge during the holidays, like at parking meters in the City of Milwaukee. This was the basis of my decision not to pay, not the fact that my suede boots were conveniently protected from having to walk to the opposite corner of the lot in the slushy rain-snow mix.

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I hustled inside from the wet weather, found a table with optimal visibility, then awkwardly stared at people until I found who I was meeting. The meeting went well (as I'm sure you were wondering), but as I walked back to my car my contentment turned to alarm. There under my windshield was a dreaded PARKING NOTICE. I carefully unfolded the wet paper and my alarm turned to disbelief at the sight of a penalty of $60! This was over seven times the upfront cost of parking!

How I wished I wouldn’t have worn my suede boots, or passed on the parallel parking spot, or let the lack of tickets on other cars influence my decision. But alas, those were the roads I traveled so now I am at your mercy.

Was I in violation of the usage policy of private property? Yes. Do I firmly regret this decision? Yes. Is your parking penalty fee somewhat exorbitant? Yes. Am I holding out hope that Parking Revenue Recovery can exercise some kindness (OK, I'll settle for pity…)? Yes. Am I willing to offer any amount of written content for free in return? Yes. Should this be interpreted as a business proposition rather than a bribe? Yes.

So, my friends at PRR, I humbly ask whether you'd consider accepting a payment of $16, which is twice your standard charge for parking, in lieu of the full penalty of $60. I have two beautiful children who have this thing where they like to be fed, and I'd also like to be able to afford more coffee meetings so I can eventually afford to replace ruined suede boots, a car I can easily parallel park, or the penalty incurred from parking in a spot despite those things.

Please let me know if there is anything you can do, and thank you for any time and consideration.



If you follow Cognition on social media, comment with your thoughts on how effective this might be and I’ll update you when I hear back!  If not, at least keep your fingers crossed for me and beware the perils of parking while consuming coffee.