Monday, May 20, 2024


parking signs

As Feb. 1 arrives, so does the need to have new resident parking permits. (Photo: Boston News Group)

Let’s start on a sour note: Bostonians have never paid for their parking stickers. That’s how another city with a triple-A bond rating works for its residents’ benefit!

LetterAnother first of February rolls around this week, and even if the sun doesn’t rise on the second day, hundreds of residents will find Cambridge’s official greeting card issued bright and early on meter maids’ annual feeding-frenzy day. You forgot about that parking permit – again?

Like last year, procrastinators’ first chance at redemption falls on a Monday. You know the ritual: 50 or more people in hourlong lines waiting a turn at two customer service windows to pay for, well, nothing. Bring a book or a list of city councillors’ email addresses to kill time. Maybe they can tell you what you’re doing there in the first place.

Staff and management will simply ignore the long lines all day long and hide behind the curtains trying to look busy while the crowd fumes. Maybe Traffic, Parking and Transportation thinks you should suffer for your impertinence. After all, what’s the whole senseless renewal process but a make-work program?

There’s no need to wait at all if you know the secret: Come 7:20 p.m. or so Monday, staffers who couldn’t help you all day will rapidly open and attend all seven customer service windows (kinda looks like Suffolk Downs, don’t you think?) and lines will evaporate rapidly. Indeed, additional staff will emerge from behind the counter, take the next victim’s paperwork and return tout de suite with the prized sticker.

What’s it all about? Quitting time. It’s a display of the department’s and city management’s contempt for residents. This nonsense happens every year. Year in and year out, the department refuses to add the extra window staff for the crunch anyone can predict. You deserve a lot better.

If you find a “resident area only” parking ticket under your wiper this Monday, don’t panic and certainly do not skip work or leave early to join the queue on Broadway. Eat your supper slowly like mama told you to and check out what Vanna’s wearing. Just get your feet in the door before 8 p.m. and you’ll see just how efficiently a municipal agency can run.