I’m annoyed with a certain fast-food chain. I won’t name it, but it rhymes with Him Torton’s.
Twice now my wife and I have tried to burn through some of my father-in-law’s expiring points on his Tim’s card and get a few things to use all his points at once. Due to the way their system is set up, we can only order one free item every 30 minutes, meaning to get our “money’s worth,” we’d have to circle back four times over the course of two hours.
We settled for the one item, cut our losses and left.
While that system is asinine and poorly conceived, I acknowledge that it’s a first-world problem at worst. Some people complain about coffee rewards systems, other people wonder if today’s the day they’re killed in a war zone. We lived blessed if slightly flawed lives here in Canada.
Paying for premium parking in a tourist community during the high season is also a first-world problem. For the price of less than a standard-issue McDonald’s meal or lunch at just about any of our lovely restaurants in Agassiz-Harrison, you, too, can be entitled to up to four hours of parking. It’s not a huge amount of time but it’s not a bad way to go before you have to move your car and continue on with your lakeside merriment, if you so choose. Judging by the comments I’ve seen, I can’t see many people paying for beyond four hours anyway.
Though the intention behind the proceeds is good, the paid parking system does bring out the worst and weirdest in people. I’ve heard horror stories about especially belligerent parking attendants or being ticketed while coming down to the wire getting to the car. I’ve seen creative ways to beat the system, like the group of five motorcyclists who stacked their bikes in one spot, paying for one day ticket. They traded what would’ve been about $45 in parking fees for a $400 fine. Not what I would’ve done, but you’re welcome to spend your cash any way you please.
There are few among us who would say they don’t want to give back to their community, but when it comes to shelling out a few dollars for optional, extra-close parking in the busy season, knowing the fees help fund maintenance of the waterfront and other amenities in the village, that’s a bridge too far. And I get it. You’re local. However, being a local in a tourist town means you’ll have to share space with tourists who keep the lights on for a not insignificant number of local businesses and people.
I acknowledge there are some who are feeling choked out of parking spots near their home because of tourist overflow. Your situation is different and a frankly much more serious issue.
I’m not saying you have to contribute to paid parking, but if you choose to, know that its intended use is for the benefit of the community, which would serve to benefit you and the generations to come after.
All I’m asking for is a little perspective and self-reflection. We all pay for stuff we take for granted every day; is this paltry and entirely optional fee really any different in the long run?
If you’d like to do something beyond following the spin cycle of complaints on Facebook and in your local media, hold your local politicians to account. Election Day is Oct. 15. Have your elected officials done enough about parking in Harrison? Think you can fix it yourself?
Vote. Run. Look at me. Listen. If you want to see change in your community, you need to stop complaining in circles, get going and do something.