The Only Constant Is Change.

Several years ago a friend of mine was visiting Nashville and, unable to find another place to park, we stopped next to a parking meter on a sidewalk. It wasn’t an ideal spot with cars zipping by, but my friend avoided the risk by slipping out the passenger side door and then we stood together and dug into our pockets for change. The parking meter was still the old style, with an oddly shaped head on a metal pole, but instead of the old pointer that showed how much time you had left it had a digital display that was blinking. We pondered how long we thought lunch might take, adding in the fact that where we were planning to go was about six blocks away, and then started shoving quarters into the slot.

We’d put in about thirty-seven quarters, including one I found on the ground, but hadn’t turned the handle yet so the display was still flashing. We were speculating about whether that was enough or if maybe we should also throw in some of the nickels and dimes we had when someone walked by and said, “Hey, don’t you know the parking here is free on Saturdays?”

In retrospect I could have been a smart-ass and said, “If we knew that do you think we’d be putting all this change in the meter?” Instead we both laughed at how ridiculous we looked.

And as I walked away I said I hoped the next person to use that meter appreciated the fact that we’d probably just paid for a day and a half of free parking.

The new parking meters seem much more advanced, as well as much more expensive, but I was surprised they still take change. So far I haven’t seen any cars parked at one of them but just in case I’m carrying around about thirty-seven quarters. I just really like helping out anyone who’s had so much trouble finding a place to park.

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  1. Allison

    That is a lot of quarters. Like, almost a full roll. I commend your preparation. And who among us hasn’t fed a machine that took everything and got nothing.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I might have exaggerated the amount of money we fed into the machine. But what annoys me about the new machines is as soon as you put the money in the meter starts running. I’d like to put some loose change in one and just leave it for the next person. I guess they don’t like that, though, because it doesn’t make as much money.


    I never carry change any more, Chris, and that’s a big change. I love your blog and that is not going to change.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I hope you never change, Ann.


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