…it’s been over 10 days since my last parking violation.
Baltimore loves me. I know she does. I have a wide variety of pet names I apply to her. Sometimes it’s “Sassy little city.” Sometimes it’s DC’s northern step-sister. Sometimes I call her my great teacher…I don’t know if she has any pet names for me.
I live and love in Baltimore and most of the time I am incredibly grateful for the lessons I have learned here.
But sometimes…(sigh). I don’t think Baltimore always knows how to love me back.
My husband and I joke about something we call “The Baltimore Tax.” This goes beyond the ACTUAL taxes in Baltimore, which are WICKED high. (Like, highest property tax rates in the state, wicked). But the Baltimore tax of which we speak is less official, more emotional or psychological, and may additionally also include a monetary component.
For example, someone backs into you when you are parked at the post office, yells at you for being irresponsibly parked, and then goes inside the post office for an hour to “mail a letter.” (Sigh).
Busted windows, rude bus drivers, no street parking during Raven’s season, indifferent city officials. These are not unique to Baltimore and none of them alone seems like much, but when they work collectively they become the slow steady erosion that often drive people out the press of humanity that defines city living.
For us, the Baltimore tax is one we are willing to pay. What’s more, I don’t feel like Baltimore is REALLY as indifferent or hostile to my presence as she tries to pretend. Just playing hard to get. That’s what I tell myself.
So, I’m staging a little experiment to test her affection. As it so happens, February 3rd at 4:52 provided me with the perfect opportunity to test her love.
Exhibit A: Parking Violation
Exhibit B: Parking Pass
Exhibit C: “The Charmery” Frequent Visitor Card
“See what had happened was,” I was having Old Bay ice cream (yes that’s a real thing, and it’s amazing, add hot fudge for a dollar) with my dad in Hampden for his 70th birthday when there was a LITTLE misunderstanding with the parking attendant.
I swear this is true. My daughter Ivy had just woken up, and was a little grumpy, so I carried her with me to the parking meter, bought not one but TWO passes (one for me and one for my parents because I’m such a thoughtful daughter) returned to my car, put the pass in the window, closed the door and proceeded to the Charmery. One hour, 5 ice cream Sundays, infinite disco lights, and 2 potty breaks in a bathroom decorated with fish made out of plastic spoons later, I returned to my car to find a parking ticket…because (I assume) the pass (now face down) had flipped over on the dashboard when I closed the door.
(Sigh) Charm Shitty.
Baltimore tax via Baltimore wind gusts.
Now, my folks are from the Midwest and when I told them “See, what had happened was…” my sweet mother said, “Well, maybe if you call and explain they’ll understand. Tell them you bought us ice cream AND paid for parking. People like it when you’re good to your parents.”
…but then I got to thinking. Why the hell not? Baltimore’s my family, too! Why not send her our kick ass holiday card (which many of you will receive in April) featuring my adorable family livin’ the urban dream in our sassy little city.
That brings us to…
Exhibit D: An imploring letter to the Department of Parking Fines
Exhibit E: Dziedzic Family Holiday Card
So what do you think? Will it work?
I invite your votes and justifications below.
My vote? Yes.
Justification? Because even a sassy sister like B’more can’t resist Old Bay ice cream and a little Mid-Western/Atlantic kindness.
Bless me B’more.
(UPDATE: Baltimore City had no Mercy. The Charmery, however, sent me free coupons to sweeten the bitter pill of a $30 ticket. I am Baltimore Blessed.)