Today I ran over to The Cup for some cupcakes after work. I was worried about parking as I pulled into Maryland Plaza, but then pleasantly surprised to find a yellow-zone parking spot right in front of the building. I figured I’d jump inside, order some cupcakes, and be back within a few minutes.
But there was a cop directly in front of me.
I parked anyway, hoping the cop wouldn’t care. But right away he put on his lights, rolled down the window, and said, “You can’t park there!”
I put on my best Reasonable Voice and said, “Could I just jump in there to buy a cupcake really quick?”
He shook his head. “No. I do this every day.”
So I gave him my Obedient Understanding You’re Just Doing Your Job Face and got back in the car. Despite the face, I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t lying to the cop–I truly was only going to be a minute. Every other parking spot in the area was full, so I was going to have to use the pay-by-the-hour parking deck down the street.
The cop had waited around to make sure that I actually pulled out of the yellow zone stop, so I was really hoping that he was still around to see me walk into The Cup and back out within 2 minutes. For some reason it’s important for me to prove to people that I’m telling the truth in situations where they clearly don’t believe me. But by the time I left the shop, the cop was gone.
The hourly rate in the parking deck was a little tough to decipher–it was one of those pricing riddles, like: $3.00 for the first hour, $1.00 for every additional hour up to 5 hours, max of $15 unless it’s a harvest moon and you’re driving a compact car, in which case it’s $1 for the first hour and $2 for every subsequent hour. $1 extra per passenger unless the cumulative weight and age of all passengers adds up to less than 400.
So I drove up the attendant, silently cursing the stubborn cop, and handed him my ticket.
“You’re good,” he said.
“What? It’s free?”
“It says ‘zero’.”
I wasn’t sure if the attendant was following the computer (most likely) or giving me a break because of the whole cupcake situation (which he didn’t know about, but I think somehow he knew), but I thanked him profusely and drove away.
And literally–I’m not exaggerating–I felt like the luckiest man alive. For a mere savings of $3 (or, if my calculations were slightly off, $1,209). But because of all that had preceded it and because I thought I was going to get charged, when I walked away for free, I felt amazing.
The next time you get something for free that you expected to pay for, soak it in. This is the good stuff of life.