I saw something new at San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport on Easter Sunday. Mamie and I drove down there to pick up our daughter, Sandy.
As usual, we parked in the short-term parking lot across from the terminal. Mamie now uses a walker or a wheelchair, so we park in one of the disabled-accessible spaces. While driving in, I noticed some new contraptions here and there. At first, they looked like stunted grandfather clocks.
A puzzled-looking man was studying one of them. It dawned on me they must be parking-fee kiosks. Id heard of such things, but I had never seen one. Then I noticed the old meters were missing from their posts.
In Paso Robles, where I live, we got rid of our parking meters in the late 1960s after 12 years of trying unsuccessfully to live with them. We havent replaced them with kiosks or anything else.
The parking-fee kiosks I saw at the San Luis Obispo airport are new. The airports website says it expects to complete its transition to the kiosks by April 16.
I dont like the kiosks. Im intimidated by any kind of smarty-pants machine that can accept money or credit cards and give me a receipt without human help. And your receipt is important. You must leave it on the drivers side of your dashboard.
The airports new kiosks take Visa, MasterCard or Discover credit cards as well as PIN-less debit cards. The kiosks in the upper lots also take cash (not including coins) but dont give change.
Money seems destined to become obsolete. We seem to be hurtling toward a time when we will buy things using numbers on our cellphone screens.
On Easter Sunday, we parked in a disabled-parking space free of charge for the last time. The new rules say, Handicapped patrons are not exempt from paying parking fees.
Actually, I agree theres no logical reason for exempting disabled people from paying parking fees. On the other hand, its entirely logical to reserve convenient parking spaces for them.
Ive used the word kiosk more today than in my entire life. I seldom hear it in Paso Robles. Merriam-Webster says a kiosk can be a gazebo, or a stand with open sides for selling stuff, or a stand-alone device for providing information or service.
The kiosks in the airports short-term parking lots charge $1 per hour, with a $12 maximum. Kiosks in the long-term lots charge $8 per day.
Those old Paso Robles meters charged 5 cents per hour. Thats shocking evidence that the purchasing power of the American dollar has almost expired.
Reach Phil Dirkx at email@example.com or 238-2372.