Thursday, October 27, 2011

Vindicated

I love One Colorado. It's a beautiful part of Old Town Pasadena where late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century historic buildings surround a courtyard. Rather than have these wonderful structures torn down they've been refurbished and are now shops and restaurants.

Even the One Colorado parking is okay. It's across the street at Union and Fair Oaks. The lot is well lit, easy to drive around in. Usually there are plenty of spaces.

Bit these days the lot is automated and the payment system is, shall we say, less than transparent. The machine has a mechanical voice. Pleasant guy. He tells you what to do. You do it. Then a little sign lights up and tells you to wait. You wait. The line behind you gets longer.

There's something else you're supposed to do at this point but the machine doesn't tell you what it is, nor does the sign. You have to guess. You have to hope your intuition will guide you through the final steps of the process.

At first I thought maybe it was me. Maybe I couldn't figure out the machine. Was I (oh no please no) getting old? You know, like I said I never would? Would a 21-year-old know what the last step is?

I had thought the parking garage was automated to save money on employee costs but when I took this photo there were two employees sitting in an office to the left. An office with a window. A window that looks out at the payment booth. This payment booth. Where this line continued to get longer because people were waiting while the machine didn't tell them what to do.

It's a relief, actually.

23 comments:

Julie said...

Wait. What's the last step!? Don't leave me hanging!

Or are those people still standing there, hopelessly waiting for someone to figure it out?

Shell Sherree said...

I always get butterflies when I have to use automated parking stations! And I cross my fingers no-one will queue behind me to provide performance pressure.

Vanda said...

Parking in Pasadena is a PITA already, in my experience. Adding coy ticket machines is overdoing it.

Petrea Burchard said...

No, no, if I tell then word will get out and these guys will never do anything to fix the problem. I'm trying to do a public service here.

There's another place in town (I won't mention the location) where the city put in meters you pay with a credit card. You can use change, too, so it should be convenient, but it's confusing. You have to read directions, follow steps. You should just put in your card and go, but it's this huge process.

There are two banks and a two coffee shops on the block so if you're only running in on a quick errand it's tempting to take a chance. My bet is people don't pay the meters and the city is losing money on them.

Petrea Burchard said...

There are a couple of good, easy lots, though (this is for Vanda): at the corner of Green and Raymond (enter on Raymond or Green) and at the corner of Delacey and Green (enter on Delacey). Free parking for 90 minutes. Easy.

Any others?

Trish said...

looks like the first victims in line are familiar to other photos you've taken! ;-)

I too dislike the "automated" parking stuff because, most often, it requires at least one person, or more to "attend" to things the "automated" machine can't. In one locale, the city was still validating parking with stickers, which the machine could not read. In another, they used a time punch, which the machine also could not read. After a trip to a local production or event, the lines outside the attendant's office got rather long. Or there was the night we went to a fundraiser and the exit gate ate our exit ticket and would neither let us out or give the ticket back!

I've been to Berkeley where they have a rather complex system for street parking that even the PhD candidates have a problem understanding how the process works. Or a beach town that will ONLY accept debit or credit cards for the $2/1hour parking fees. No cash or coin. Really?

I much prefer one event we attend every year where the attendant hands us a ticket, takes our money and scans us into the lot. Technically it is an automated system, but she does all the work to make things run more smoothly. We don't idle in fumes to leave and we leave pleasantly, rather than with a headache. She has a nice smile, she recognizes us every time and we make sure not to blind her with our headlights when we leave and say a pleasant goodnight to one another. We park there every time, just because of this service. WINNING!

Margaret said...

Yes. It seems like you could just have the people take the money.

John Sandel said...

Vendicated.

Bellis said...

It's like something out of Candid Camera! The car park attendants are probably bored out of their minds - watching the customer's confusion is their happy distraction. Does no-one in charge ever go take a look at the confusion? Don't they want feedback? I guess not, sigh.

Those parking machines on Lake and Colorado have stopped me parking there to shop. I sometimes risk it if I'm only popping in to collect dry cleaning, whereas in the past I'd have put 50 cents in the meter. You're right, the city may be losing money. On the other hand, the minimum charge is $1, so the City makes a profit on shorter visits.

Petrea Burchard said...

Yes, those are too much trouble to use, Bellis. I hope the merchants aren't losing money.

Patrizzi Intergarlictica said...

HAH!

Desiree said...

Good grief, intrepid traveler!
(Did you have to spill the beans about Delacey? Drats!)

Petrea Burchard said...

Hah!

Sorry about Delacey, Des, but from the line of cars I saw there last time I'm afraid that word is already out.

Ms M said...

We have some of these, too; "mystery tech". There are also some automated checkouts in some of the local grocery stores, but now they have a staff person watching over them, as some people became highly irritated and threatened violence when it wouldn't let you finish checking out.

Ms M said...

"...when it wouldn't let THEM finish checking out."
Sheesh!

Katie said...

Maybe when the pleasant guy was doing the recording for the payment instructions he stepped out for a coffee and then forgot to record that last critical step! At least I already knew the trick by the time I got to the front of the line.

Trish said...

am surprised the Star News hasn't done an expose' on this to get it working better.

just saying, might help the merchants.

Petrea Burchard said...

We have those, too, Ms. M. I hadn't realized the humans overseeing them were there to prevent violence. They're doing a fine job.

Yeah, Katie, when you're stuck in that line you have to pay attention to the poor sod in front of you in case they figure it out.

Trish, I guess the Star-News has bigger fish to fry. I scoop them on the nit-picky stuff like this!

John Sandel said...

O MY GOD WHAT HAPPENED TO TRISH'S PRONOUNS !!???!!

Petrea Burchard said...

They apparently went the way of your lower case letters.

Susan Campisi said...

That's crazy to have to think so hard about how to pay for your parking! I don't love my job but I'm grateful for the free parking in Old Town.

klikkonthis said...

I'm a little late to the game on this one... I hate that parking structure in your photo. I have nothing but problems with it. Green/Raymond is my favorite... but do yourself a favor and always use the Green exit, unless the Fair Oaks exit is manned. In my experience the "automatic" ticket taker always reads my ticket as "invalid" and I have to back my way out of the lane, and go around to a staffed exit. Argh!

Petrea Burchard said...

Good advice, klik-kat. I always use the Green exit anyway. I didn't know of the Fair Oaks problem.

I think the inoperative word here is "automated."