It's not a big deal, except it is a big deal. Parking meters. They are necessary to manage the way people use, and share, public space.
How often do we consider how our thinking and actions impact others?
The real-life, case study of The Parking Meter is baffling. The new "smart" parking meters take quarters and credit cards, but that's not all. The meters are "wired in" to the interwebs and there are already apps for drivers to find open spots and feed the meter with their smartphones.
Credit cards or coins: okay, that's fair.
New design: of course, but now I hanker for old style just for the visual, visceral rush of remembering being allowed to drop the pennies in and turn the turner thingy.
But wait: I. Can't. See. It. It's too tall.
What is this weird spate of unusually tall people installing these new meters?
I'm 5'3". This meter, from sidewalk to tippy top, is 5' tall. Take the new screen, titled back at about 45 degrees; and the glare from a sunny day; add that I'm in a rush and get clumsy while I'm standing on my tippy toes (so I stumble) as I try to read the instructions for this new system.
wtf? Maybe it was the winter of 2015 that was the concern and a city would lose revenues from parking meters if the snowbanks buried them.
Nope, that's not the case.
A quick google search tells me that Too Tall Parking Meters have been cited at least as far back as 2012 (Louisville, KY); 2013 (Easton, MA); 2014 (Reno, NV); 2014 Pittsburgh, PA; 2014 (Tampa, FL and a class-action suit); 2015 (Sacramento, CA); 2015 (Tuscon, AZ).
AND, last week was the National Parking Association Convention and Expo in Atlanta, GA.
It is concerning not only that this strategic error in installation happened. What's dumbfounding is that it keeps happening. It means that too many people with the responsibility of the systems of our civic function have their heads down. Literally, causjng a severe CDD: curiosity deficit disorder. In a city like Tampa, FL (pop. near 350,000), it cost taxpayers $7 for the new meters to be installed. And then how much to cut the posts down to size?
If you can't readily see one of these meters, it is upsetting because if you don't use it right, you'll get a ticket. If you can readily see one of these meters, do you care? Should you care? Could you care?
In our communities, we have people of all kinds of abilities, sizes, habits, language, etc. participating in what we hope is good clockwork. Whenever we are responsible for maintaining a part of the clock, we are responsible for staying alert enough to know what where are doing, for whom, and why. It's that simple.
How does the way we work, and live, impact others? Habits relating to trash keeping, music listening, leaf collecting, driving technique, sidewalk passing are all workings of the interactive systems of our day. We do such tasks either mindlessness, automatically, or routinely. At what point do we look around and consider shifts going on? At what point are we thoughtful about how our own convenience is another person's stress? What fuels us to think of others, as we want to be thought of? (I'm keeping the preposition at the end of the sentence because that's the way we talk. Someone is "well thought of.") What about "oft thought of?" How often do we think of others?
What measures of curious and rationale considerations do we take in the course of doing our daily work?
This is a simple and involved question. Rhetorical, wondering questions don't elicit talk back and conversation, per se. It takes a little while to connect such questions to the living of our days. We collect and test.
If we can't thoughtfully talk about how we include and serve all people in our community, we might at least want to avoid wasting time and money and install parking meters sized for the whole population using them.
Being 5'3" and shrinking,