Cannon: On petty triggers and Salt Lake City's new parking meters

This is an archived article that was published on in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Warning: If you are not in the mood for a first-world rant, please do not read this column.

If, on the other hand, you are eager for a tip about something you should never do while in downtown Salt Lake City, then please pull up a chair, and I'll tell you all about it.

But first, let me ask you this question: Is there a petty trigger in your life that, nonetheless, provokes a huge reaction from you? Like drivers who go too slow in the fast lane? Or sports announcers who use "impact" as a verb? Or people who talk in the movie theater? ON THEIR CELLPHONES?

For my brother (who never gets mad), it's the employees at the Taco Bell he frequents who greet drive-thru customers by saying, "Hey there! Hi there! Ho there! How ya doin' out there!" Every time this happens my brother wants to jump through the speaker, grab his food handler by the throat and make that food handler's eyeballs spin around like cherries in a slot machine.

This brings me to my own personal trigger and that would be the newish parking meters in downtown Salt Lake City. Every time I tangle with these parking meters — and by "tangle" I mean "even catching a glimpse of them through my windshield as I drive down the street"— my head explodes like a bottle rocket, straight through the sunroof. (Unless, of course, the sunroof is closed.)

I know. Irrational. But there it is.

So why do the new meters make me so nuts?

1.• You used to be able to park for free on Salt Lake City streets after 6 p.m. Now the evil meters make you pay until 8.

2. • Also, you can only park for a maximum of two hours.

3. • Another problem? You have to pay for your parking at a pay station, which may or may not be conveniently located (and usually isn't) by your actual car. Which means you have to remember the number of your parking space while you walk to the pay station. Which is hard for certain nonremembering brains that don't really see the point of parking space numbers in the first place.

4. • And another problem? The downtown parking meters have gotten together and had babies. Lots and lots of babies. You now see parking-meter spawn lining back alleys such as Edison Street, where various employees used to gather to smoke while on break.

5. • Finally and most egregiously, you cannot pull into a parking space and ascertain if any time is left on the meter. Why? The parking meters don't want you to know how much time is left, because they want you to give them more money. You know. Like con artists!

Now for the "tip" part of this column. Remember how I said you're only allowed to park for two hours? I understood this to mean that if your time was up, you had to add more time at the pay station.

Which I did last week.

I'd eaten at Cedars of Lebanon and wanted to see a matinee at The Broadway. I'd already paid for two hours and still had plenty of time left on the meter. But just to be on the safe side, I added another dollar after eating lunch, only to discover that when you pay more money, your meter starts all over again, which meant my previous payment didn't count. Which meant I had less time on the meter than I did before I paid. Which meant I felt like I was taking crazy pills. Crazy pills!

OK. Fine. I'm aware it's a waste of time to rail against something I can't change, such as parking meters bent on world domination. So thanks for listening. Wish I could say I feel better now.

(But I don't.)

Ann Cannon can be reached at or