Thursday, February 14, 2008

A fine time was had by all...stupid parking...

Last night I attended a fundraising thank-you kind of event for Operation Go Home. It was held at something called the Jazz'oo bar? lounge? jazzandmartinijoint? I don't know. Just Jazz'oo, I guess. The name of the bar says it all. Inside these walls, it promises, a Latin Jazz Trio will be playing softly on the stage, instrumental latin jazz arrangements of the Beatles's Yesterday and The Girl From Ipanema. And I was not disappointed. What was a little disappointing was that I did not know it was a night to dress up. I was just about the only person there not in a suit jacket and tie, instead I had a ratty old CHEZ T-shirt and ripped-up jeans. I could not figure out whether the OGH event was a specifically classy affair or whether it was just that bar (or restaurant...maybe it was a restaurant). At any rate, I probably should have been more dressed up because they were surprising me with an award, but it was past my bedtime and that's just how I dress.

On the way into the place, I met some lovely young girld from Industry Canada, Allison and Christine and their crew. There was a private birthday party going on for one of their co-workers behind a screen in the corner. We crossed paths outside as I was going to my car for prizes and they were headed into this party. I guessed it would be eleven dollars for a drink. When I sat down at their table a couple of hours later, it turns out I was a little low. Allison had a drink in front of her that had cost $11.50. I was 50 cents off. Speaking of 50 cents, I had a pretty tough time parking. I got there at 4:30 and I was to leave at about 8:00. I had brought extra change specifically to feed the metres when I got downtown. I was actually prepared this time! I had toonies, and loonies and quarters, silver dollars and doubloons. I was not going to get stuck in parking! Except that I was then stuck with parking. I did not have enough change for the time I wished to stay there. In order to park for three and a half hours, it would have cost me $712.75. Or thereabouts. I just did not have that kind of change on me. No regular human being carries that much in change. Ever.

So I drove to a parking lot. But he wanted a deposit of ten dollars. I did not have ten dollars. I had a mere seven dollars and twenty-five cents in change. I drove around some more. Finally, I saw the entrance to the World Exchange Plaza. I drove in. In the end, it cost me a little more than eight bucks. So I still had to go to a bank machine. And I also am something of an idiot. You see, I used to work at World Exchange Plaza. As a security guard. And I still, last night, got lost in their parking lot underground. But that's not my point here. My point is this. I carried more than seven dollars in change downtown. I never carry seven dollars in change. That is a lot of change. I went out of my way to fill my pockets with as much as I had. (There were many many dimes and nickels in the door, but the parking metres sure don't take those!) So I brought it all downtown, and it still wasn't enough. Not nearly enough! So what's going to happen when they jack up the parking rates? I'll just plan better? Not likely.

No, I will not plan any better. I will show up downtown, as I always do, with the change I happen to have in my pockets. If I'm there for a longer time, I will find an overpriced parking garage, just because I don't have enough change. Also, it's usually cheaper anyway. Or, I will be in a hurry, as I tend to be, and I will throw the three bucks I happen to have into the metre, and then I will run off. That three bucks will buy me thirty minutes of parking, but my errand will take me thirty-five minutes. I will return to my car to find a ticket that will cost me far more than even several hours worth of parking. I will forget to pay that ticket, which will then accumulate interest until I renew my drivers' license, at which point it will show up again and I will now have to pay 80 dollars. And I will think "it cost me 80 dollars just to go downtown and run into a store?" And I will never return to the market again. For two reasons. I am lazy enough that it will cost me massive amounts of money, and also because my pockets can't stand the strain of carrying around thirty-four pounds of coins. I completely understand the position of the BIA. Parking hikes can easily hurt businesses. Here's my half-assed solution: Make the parking metres able to take nickels and dimes as well. Then you have an outside chance of having enough change on you normally. Also, when you go downtown to park, you can just empty that jar of nickels and dimes you've been saving for a rainy day, and instead of rolling them all up on the bed and home and lugging them to a bank, you can just dump them in a metre. Any thoughts?

In the end, however, it was a terrific, fun event for Operation Go Home. Some guys from CIBC were there, they just donated $10,000 to the campaign, and Scotiabank made a large donation as well. Adam made a speech, he's a former street kid who went through OGH and is now at university for social work, and actually working with the street youth. And of course dozens of other dignitaries and board members and people who are incredibly involved in the community down there in the market. Pierre Belanger, Elspeth MacKay, Chris Day, Shaun Vardon, and so many others. There was a raffle, and Christine from the Industry Canada birthday party in the other room won a CHEZ 106 hat and Senators tickets. Even those not in our own party were helping out. And so far, the "reality campaign" launched by Operation Go Home with the 24 Hours of Homelessness event has managed to raise $30,000. That is almost half way to their ultimate goal this year of $75,000, and is a great sign this early in the campaign. For more information about Operation Go Home, please visit:

http://www.operationgohome.ca/

3 comments:

  1. Hey I was there....OH wait you already mentioned that. Pretty good party.......I thought a few things were funny though. Like was if I had gone into that place 5 years ago they wouldn't even have let me use the washroom. Or how all these donors were offering me (the ex street kid) drinks (OH I wish I didn't have a paper due) I also thought it was funny how you won the Chez 106 prize pack

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  2. I would like to thank everyone that showed up, made donations and didn't laugh at me when I bombed my speech.

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  3. I thought it was funny too - I was fairly surprised they let ME in the door, dressed shabbily as I was. I mean, a place that serves 12 dollar rum and cokes can't possibly think I would be worth their while. And although you were nervous during that speech, it was certainly the most interesting one of the night. I think people get how tough public speaking is...and I am wearing my free CHEZ hat and T-shirt proudly today! Thanks Adam - you guys did a great job.

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