The Misery Of Getting A Parking Ticket

The Misery Of Getting A Parking Ticket

Hey Officer, where’s my student discount?

You know when you get off work and you’re exhausted and just can’t wait to get home and fall into bed? That’s usually how I feel after a day at work and so when that moment of happiness is ruined by something, whether it be having to stay a bit longer to get something done or having to make a stop at the supermarket- I’m not a happy camper. However, this particular day was not ruined by such events, instead, it was ruined by the bright orange color that is representative of a New York City parking ticket.

I’d just walked up to my car, ignorant to the fact that I had gotten a ticket until I had sat down in the car and saw the bright orange color staring me in the face. I thought, of course, someone was playing a trick on me; I’d paid the meter and arrived before it was up, surely it was a mistake. Alas, it was not, and I hadn’t noticed that there was street cleaning occurring that day and the sign that stood tall and daunting right outside my car door. How had I missed it?

What kind of trickery allowed me to put money in the meter, despite the fact that there was no parking at that time? Why hadn’t the person sitting in the car behind me alert me as I walked away? Why hadn’t I read the sign? How did I get so lucky? Why isn’t there a student discount for parking tickets?

I won’t hold it against the traffic cop who wrote the ticket, but against the city for inadvertently tricking those who aren’t having an all there kind of day, or those who just don’t know any better. The traffic cop was just doing the job they were told to do and for that reason, my anger and disappointment are not with them but with the system that has governed them in this way. I suppose I have myself to blame as well, for not knowing a Wednesday from a Thursday cleaning day, but I’m much too stubborn to admit fault against being wronged.

Cover Image Credit: Bruce Emmerling / Pixabay

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9 Life Lessons New York City Has Taught Me

Other than it is the best city

I am lucky enough to come from a place with such cultural differences, diversity, knowledge acceptance, and life-changing experiences. Now I may be a bit biased, but there is no better place for me than New York and I am so grateful for the experiences I have been able to have and the life lessons I've learned, especially from New York City.

1. Do not take things from people on the street.

It most likely won't end well and you'll probably end up having to pay 20 bucks for someone's random mixtape.

2. Walk quickly, especially in Times Square.

The tourist's like to see it all which means if you need to be somewhere Times Square is definitely not the shortcut you've been looking for.

3. Always keep an eye out.

Whenever I'm in the city my head is on a swivel and I always know whose around me, this definitely carries through in all areas of my life and I am grateful I am able to be so aware of my surroundings.

4. You have to get lost on the subway once or twice.

The B and the D train go to the Bronx and Brooklyn. If you're trying to get to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx DO NOT take the B towards Brooklyn. Not that I know this from personal experience or anything!!!!!

5. $1 pizza is the best pizza.

The little windows of pizza in the city are the best and, usually, have the biggest slices!!

6. The LIRR is the best and worst thing ever.

Its the best when it works, because it makes it easy for kids from the suburbs (like me) to have a day trip in the City. Not to mention all the thousands of people that rely on it to get to work. When it doesn't work, however, it can be the most frustrating thing because the workers are usually just as confused as you.

7. The little food places you find are so much better than the Instagram famous ones.

The cute Instagram ones usually have an insanely artsy presentation if the food, but the line is usually out the door and the food is mediocre at best. Try and find a tiny diamond in the ruff!

8. Appreciate the commute.

Getting in and out of the city alone is a very difficult process, but it makes you appreciate every single person who does it day after day for years.

9. It is just simply THE BEST!

The best life lesson I have learned is that its just simply the best and will always hold a special place in my heart.

Cover Image Credit: Maryanne Mahoney

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Visiting Vietnam Made Me Realize I'm A Rich, Privileged Tourist

You don't think you're rich until you live like a king for $100.

I had zero expectations when I took off for Saigon (aka Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam. I knew life would be very different for a week. I knew that I knew nothing about life in Vietnam, aside from the handful of YouTube videos I watched in a small attempt to prepare. I think I did expect accomodations to have mainly fans instead of AC and open layouts to allow for airflow.

What I did not exactly think of beforehand was the overwhelming and obvious disparities in wealth, not only amongst the people and places we saw, but between us and most anyone that wasn’t a tourist. Our professor told us we only needed about $100 for lunches. Accommodations and dinners were paid for by tuition, which did already give us a head start.

But, a quick Google search shows that someone can find a decent looking hostel with good reviews for $6/night, so it might not have been much more without tuition anyways. The equivalent of about $4 can buy you a large meal and a coffee/drink. Every souvenir I bought felt like I was wasting money, not because it was souvenir, but because I knew others around me would be using this money for things I took for granted.

Our professor sometimes made comments like “How does it feel to easily drop 200,000 VND (about $8) and know that it could be feeding a whole family?” And to be honest, I appreciated those comments. They put things in perspective and reminded me of the reality around me.

We went to restaurants every night and ate well. After a couple of days, I found myself saying things like “200,000 VND? That’s kind of expensive… Do I actually need that? I should shop around for a better price,” meanwhile, at least four other bills that size sat in my wallet. I wasn’t willing to pay what I would expect to pay back home for the same thing. And then I’d hear someone put it in perspective again; “I mean, that’s really not all that expensive when you convert it.” Right, I forgot.

This is not to say that we didn’t also see wealth. Notably, we visited a university that showed the wealth we hadn’t otherwise seen--the more upper middle class of the area. And it felt like stepping into a different country. And it's not to say there wasn't a middle class in sight--it just looked a little different than the middle class I was raised in.

Above all else, the entire trip really helped me check my privilege.

Yes, I was suddenly among the wealthy here. I was on a trip abroad for my Master’s program. I had the ability to not need to think twice about buying souvenirs and was accustomed to AC and fast/reliable wifi. I mean, we sat in balcony seats in the Saigon Opera House. I have never felt more privileged than I did sitting above others like that. But, it wasn’t just the money.

English is also one of my native languages and I was born a citizen of the United States.

This is something that privileged me above other tourists. I sat next to a Peruvian woman on one of my flights there who told me she needed to apply for a Transit Visa just to take a connection in Tokyo, despite not even leaving the airport. I panicked, thinking I needed one too.

She responded with “You’re coming from the U.S., right? You shouldn’t need one. American passports give you a lot of privileges that others don’t have.” I was taken aback. I hadn’t thought that just my passport gave me that much privilege. My fluency in an essentially international language gave me the ability to communicate better than fellow tourists without English or Vietnamese skills.

If I learned anything, it’s that I’m not sure I would have been able to prepare for that. I’m still processing the fact that I was momentarily wealthy, and the guilty appreciation that comes along with that. I cannot have been more fortunate for things I didn’t even choose.

Yes, maybe in the U.S. I am considered a minority from a lower middle class family, and maybe in the U.S. that feels like I’m struggling a bit, but that still meant being temporarily rich in Saigon. I don’t want to take that for granted again.

Cover Image Credit: Christine Roy

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