No Parking 3 pm to 7 pm

Jan 31, 2015 by


          Friends, I went on an adventure on Tuesday! My pseudo sister and I had a fabulous lunch at Colette, ending with – Paris would be appalled – peanut butter, brownie-stuffed macarons! She refused to let me pay; and in light of the quest we didn’t yet know was before us, I appreciate that even more now than I already did at the table. Although peanut butter, brownie-filled macarons were very exciting, our day was about to get far more interesting.

          On our way out of the restaurant, we were walking and talking along Wellington and up Bathurst. We crossed the street and turned right onto King, where I had parked.

          “I think we parked the other way,” my pseudo sister said.

          “No, we definitely parked here,” I replied before a street full of cars, none of which were mine – none of which were even stopped. In fact, there were no parked cars on the street.

          Common sense hit me hours too late: rush hour.

          Before I even thought to care about the whereabouts of my car, I had one question for King St: Where the fuck is the no-parking sign?

          I know Toronto parking bylaws. I have made it my business to know Toronto parking bylaws, and it is because I have made it my business to know Toronto parking bylaws that I park for free downtown. To be very clear, I do not park for free by breaking these bylaws; I park for free by being aware of them and working around them. I seek out streets and times where and when paid parking is not enforced, and I am careful not to park in restricted areas or during restricted times. I detour routes and time social plans based on free parking. Only if I absolutely have to, will I pay, because better that than a ticket; but it is extremely rare that I cannot find somewhere to park for free. To illustrate how rare, I’m normally downtown at least once per week in the winters and multiple times per week in the summers, and I pay for parking maybe one to three times per year – if that. I park for free because I am willing to give up convenience to save money. I am willing to weave through side streets in search of free spots. I am willing to park a 45-minute walk from my destination, even in the winter. I am willing to eat after 9 pm, the magical hour that most paid street parking turns free street parking, because the fact of the matter is that I spend way too much time downtown to be able to afford to pay for parking.

          Furthermore, I park for free based on principle. I could be a millionaire, and I would still trek blocks in negative temperatures for free parking, because I don’t believe in spending money on what is freely accessible. I also don’t believe in paying just to station my car somewhere. No service is provided to me when I park my car, so what is it exactly that I should be paying for? Space? Really?

          Needless to say, I am cautious. Since I knew my pseudo sister and I would be going downtown during the day on Tuesday and it was bitterly cold, I purposely picked a restaurant within short walking distance of my usual, free daytime parking spot on a side street off of King, where paid parking is never enforced and there are no parking restrictions until after midnight. It’s the ideal daytime spot: there’s always room to park, it’s free at times when most Toronto parking is not, and it’s well located. If I go downtown for a morning or an afternoon, that’s where I most often leave my car, regardless of where I have to go. Like I said, I have no problem walking.

          However, while driving along King toward my regular spot, with less than a minute to go until I would have turned onto my free street, I noticed that the Green P street parking signs on King had a time gap. Paid parking was enforced until 3 pm and not reinforced again until 7 pm. For those of you who don’t know, let me explain to you how downtown street parking works. If you are parked between two posts bearing Green P signs with arrows pointing to the stretch of pavement between them, you can park there without being ticketed as long as you are abiding by all parking bylaws. For example, you cannot block driveways or park in front of fire hydrants located between the two signs, just as you cannot block driveways or park in front of fire hydrants anywhere. The Green P signs, usually found on major streets, will display times during which paid street parking is enforced. If you are parking on the street within those times, you must pay at the meter and be sure to abide by any maximum time limits. Of course, because I would rather park for free on a side street, I do not park on major streets during times that paid parking is enforced.

          Outside of those times, however, I will absolutely park on major streets, because doing so is free unless there are signs indicating parking restrictions. Although paid parking may not be enforced during a particular timeframe, beware that parking restrictions may apply, which subjects you to being ticketed and possibly towed. If there are parking restrictions, there should be a sign clearly outlining them. Read all signs before parking anywhere. I know to do this because I once parked between Green P signs on Queen W at midnight at a spot where paid parking stopped at 9 pm, making it free as of 9 pm. Yet, I came back around 3 am to a ticket, because I hadn’t read the sign tacked above the Green P one that stated no parking except by permit after 2 am. The ticket only cost $31.50 and it was the only parking ticket I had ever gotten downtown, so I shrugged it off. I save more than that in a month by not paying for parking. Plus, paying that $31.50 saved me a lot of money in the long run by teaching me to read all signs. Sometimes there are five signs on one post. I read them all. If all signs support parking without payment and restrictions during the time that I intend to be parked, I know I can park freely without issues.

          On Tuesday, the only sign on the post that I parked behind was a Green P sign. Again, it stated that paid parking was enforced until 3 pm and not reinforced again until 7 pm. In the absence of a sign displaying parking restrictions between 3 pm and 7 pm, this indicates free parking. Because I very well know that day parking on major streets, like King, either comes at a cost or is restricted, I specifically looked for a sign stating no parking between 3 pm and 7 pm, which is exactly why I was pleasantly surprised not to find one. Had there been one, I would have carried on to my regular, free daytime parking spot. It was so close to me that I could almost see it, but I figured – since I had apparently lucked out with a free spot even closer to the restaurant at a time when free parking is hard to come by – why not spare my pseudo sister and I an extra couple minutes of walking in extreme cold? I second-guessed it for a moment, thinking the spot was too good to be true, before deciding that I was being paranoid; because, in addition to the absence of restricted-parking signage, there were other cars parked behind and in front of mine (the owners of which probably had adventures of their own on Tuesday night!).

          So, when I saw after lunch that The Beaut had been towed, you can bet your ass I wanted to know where the sign that stated no parking between 3 pm and 7 pm was, because where it should have been was on the post in front of the car that had been parked in front of me, the same post as the Green P sign. That was the post to the east of which parking began. Where it should not have been was on a standalone post down the street, away from the designated stretch of street parking, where I eventually found it after walking back and forth along King.

          Not cool, Toronto.

          Once I fulfilled my need to know on what underhanded grounds the city took my car, I had a choice, the same choice everyone has when facing an unexpected circumstance: I could stress out or I could have an adventure. I didn’t even have to consciously think about it.

          I called the phone number on the parking meter to find out my car’s whereabouts. My pseudo sister mapped the bus route. We went to Shoppers Drug Mart, where I bought gum to get cash back. We needed coinage to embark on our journey to Weston and St. Clair, where my baby had been taken on his very first solo adventure. (He’s growing up so fast! He’s never been towed before!)

          “I haven’t been on an adventure in so long!” my pseudo sister excitedly said on our way to the streetcar. #sidekickoftheyear

          Commuting by public transit was a venture of its own! Both my pseudo sister and I are drivers. Sure, I spent four years bussing while living in Guelph during university, but I have next to no experience with Toronto transit. Before Tuesday, I had only been on a streetcar once when I was 16, and it had been so many years since I had been on a Toronto subway – which I’ve taken fewer times in my entire life than I have fingers – that I was calling it the metro, as if I’m still in Paris.

          “I think that’s our streetcar,” I said to my pseudo sister in reference to the 511 that had just stopped amongst traffic. “It’s in the middle of the street. What do we do?” I laughed through my scarf.

          “Follow the people?” she guessed with an uncertain shrug of her shoulders, also laughing.

          After a streetcar, a subway ride, and a bus, we arrived at St. Clair and Gunns, a Google-estimated six-minute walk to JP Towing.

          “Maybe I’ll find my husband because of all this!” I exclaimed.

          “At JP Towing?” my pseudo sister looked at me doubtfully. “No. Sorry, Treese. I’m not letting that happen.”

          It took us only seven minutes to assess that we were lost and that our fingers and toes were frozen to the point that we had to walk into the nearby Target to defrost our hands and feet using the bathroom dryers. On our way back outside, we asked some people working there for directions. Because both they and Google maps were doing nothing for us, we stopped into a place across the street called Victory’s Kitchen in hope of some assistance. You’d think Victory’s Kitchen would be a restaurant. Victory’s Kitchen was a ghetto stairwell with voices. My pseudo sister looked up toward the top of the stairs, nervously shook her head in my direction, and walked back toward the door.

          “We should go,” she whispered.

          “I think JP Towing is that way,” I whispered back, pointing outside and to the left.

          “Why are we whispering?” she asked, her voice still low.

          “I think we’re scared?” I guessed.

          It was definitely in our best interest to be quiet, but we both started giggling uncontrollably before bolting outside.

          I don’t know what temperature it was that night. I was too scared to look. Based on how quickly we were painfully frozen, I initially guessed -20°C. When my pseudo sister’s phone froze to death one minutes after we left Victory’s Kitchen, I dropped my estimate to -30°C.

          I pulled out my phone to see that Glen Scarlett, the street of JP Towing, was right in front of us. We had actually stopped at it earlier, but kept walking, thinking it was the wrong one. Once inside the shack-like office, I pulled out my credit card to free my car for what I thought was a grand total of $259.90. Then, as I watched the guy who had taken my payment write on a coloured piece of paper, something occurred to me.

          “There’s no ticket associated with this, is there?” I asked, thinking my question ridiculous because $259.90 seemed like punishment enough.

          “Oh yeah, it’s on the car,” he said before sending me into a dark parking lot alone to find The Beaut and making my pseudo sister wait at the gate.

          When I found my car, I fearfully grabbed the yellow slip from beneath my windshield wipers and got inside. I shone my phone’s flashlight on the ticket.

          The first number I saw was 555.

          It was the badge number.

          Thank fucking God.

          Then 403.

          The infraction number.

          Jesus fucking Christ.

          Then 150.

          Finally, the fine.

          After 555 and 403, I breathed a sigh of relief.

          Again, I chose not to stress. There was nothing I could do to change the situation, so I laughed off the $409.90 in ticket and towing fees, planning to pay them without looking at my before and after balances, thereby not even acknowledging that $409.90 just happened to my Visa and un-happened to my bank account while unemployed. There was no point getting upset, especially not after such an entertaining day. I scored an adventure, spent over seven hours catching up with my pseudo sister, and created one of my new favourite pseudo-sibling memories! This one is right up there in hilariousness with the time she threw herself behind my parents’ couch during a childhood game of hide-and-seek, slid down the wall headfirst, and plummeted to the ground. (I’m literally laughing out loud as I recall this.)

          I drove out of the parking lot, picked up my shivering pseudo sister at the gate, and headed for St. Clair, at which point my phone joined hers in frozen fate, requiring us to stop at a gas station for directions to the 401. Excitingly, halfway home, we finally regained feeling in our limbs.

          “I think I’m going to go have a piece of peanut butter cheesecake,” I told my pseudo sister as I hugged her goodbye once outside of her house. “I think I deserve it.”

          “I think you do too,” she laughed.

Happiness Tip: Have an adventurer’s perspective!

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  1. Get Social Without Breaking the Bank - Press Play Pro - […] after 9 pm) for free. (Warning: Do not park on King during rush hour. Your car will be towed.…

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