Parcel taxes. Bridge tolls inching toward double digits. Two-buck-an-hour parking fees in Walnut Creek and no free parking on Sunday. What’s life in suburbia coming to?
We wish we could say for sure but being old N-POCA’s (that’s ‘Numbers-People of a Certain Age’ to you youngsters) and having the benefit of historical perspective behind us we can predict that the cost of just about everything is going to continue to inch upward until one of either two things happen: the public gets tired of being gouged and riots in the streets, or, more likely, They Who Bill Us find even more wickedly innovative ways to extract the last thin dime from our pockets.
Bank fees. Credit card fees. Fees for spilling over the seat the airline sells you. Fees to park your car… to talk with a bank teller or a “customer service” representative (a misnomer if ever there was one)… and for just about everything else under the sun.
The City of Walnut Creek is giving its residents a goofy-footed Christmas present of sorts and upping the cost it charges to park one’s car downtown from $1-an-hour to $2-an-hour. They’ve even equipped the Cool Hand Luke Bandits with credit card slots to make payment – and perhaps assessment of more credit card fees – even easier. The new sport in Walnut Creek? Biking into town and GoPro-ing all the shoppers darting in and out of shops to feed their meters before the Parking Control Officers come around to… yep, assess more fees.
Worry-free Sunday parking? Fuhgeddaboudit. One day out of the week when visitors can linger over their Gin Fizzes and enjoy a downtown conversation without worrying if the Tahoe is going to be tagged or airlifted out of its space by one of the city’s new Sikorsky Parking Choppers (coming soon, trust us)? Poo, no way. No relaxation for you. Sometimes it seems the people who govern us appear committed to ratcheting up the anxiety levels until their constituents are either afraid to leave their homes and venture into town at all or they lose it entirely and join a lemming-like rush to the Booby-Hatch – for which we’ll probably be charged, too.
As we said, behind hindered by age and all, we remember with fondness the days when we could cross the bridges our fathers built for under a dollar. We remember when the toll taker said “thank you” when you handed over your money or, if you knew Uncle Lou was working Lane Three of the Golden Gate that day: “Coming by for dinner Sunday, Johnny?”
“Ah, quaint but antiquated vestiges of a bygone era,” you modern folk who don’t know any better are saying. “Welcome to the Modern World. Welcome to Progress.” But is it? We’re not so sure.
How about you? See any Secret Fees pop up on your credit card, bank, or cable service bill? What’s your favorite? We’ve got a million of ’em, but we want to hear yours!