Magazine

Point of View

The IPI Show, the TSA, Buy an EV and Park Free

By John Van Horn

There are always things someone on the outside looking in would change, but from my point of view, the 2011 IPI Conference & Expo in Pittsburgh was a win for everyone concerned. There was a lot of talk about having the show in “Pittsburgh,” but frankly, it’s a beautiful city and its convention center is a great venue.
All exhibitions have a “last day drop-off,” and if you can figure out a way to stop that (except having the exhibition on only one day), you should bottle it. This year was no different. It’s just as it is.
Even the usual whining about booth traffic seemed muted. I know the IPI has put the numbers at 2,500 (that includes exhibitor personnel), so exhibitors should be happy.
I didn’t attend any of the educational sessions, as we were very busy in meetings most of the time. Good job, IPI.
See you next year, June 9-12, in the land of sun and sand, Phoenix.
***
We at Parking Today were fortunate enough to be asked to play “Family Feud” in the PayLock booth at the 2011 IPI show. It was the last day, and for some reason (probably some kind of Texas sly move), IPI Chair-Elect Liliana Rambo of Houston’s Parking Management Division and her “Texas Family” threw the game, and the Parking Today Family won.
I was singularly unsuccessful, but my team (Andy, Marcy and Tamara, a ringer from the ACS) held up their end. We won!
But what does any of this have to do with the TSA (Transportation Security Administration)? Read on.
We were given great prizes by the PayLock crew – Cory, Bart, Matt and the others. The one I will cherish is a “Starship Enterprise” pizza cutter. It’s really “AbFab.” Andy won a wine opener, and since I am the heavy drinker in the family, he graciously gave it to me. Whatta boy! And therein turns the tale.
I was running late, so I tossed everything in my bag and made it to the airport with barely 45 minutes to spare. The lines were long, and when I got through the scanner, I noticed that the TSA person at the monitor was calling everyone over to look at the X-ray of my bag. Then they asked nicely if I would mind if they searched my luggage. The plot thickens. I was sure they were after the pizza cutter.
They spread my unmentionables all over the place, and then asked: “Do you have a set of brass knuckles in your bag?” Whoops – the corkscrew was in the shape of a great pair of brass knuckles.
Oh yeah, said I; it was a prize I won playing “Family Feud.” I rummaged around and came up with the offending item. I figured I would simply toss it and that would be the end – ha! At that point, the TSA people went into Slow Motion – I was cursing Cory.
They spent five minutes looking for the proper paperwork and began filling it out. I asked if I couldn’t simply throw the corkscrew away. Nope – gotta fill out two pages of data with everything about me. I was cursing Bart.
Then it got interesting. The police arrived. I looked confused; they didn’t. A big strapping patrol officer told me that he was now trying to decide whether to arrest me for a felony – bringing a weapon through security (that, of course, is not allowed even in Pennsylvania) and trying to sneak it on an airplane. I was now cursing Matt.
He was actually reading the fine print on the blister pack that held the offending item. He looked at me. “I am running you. Is there anything you want to tell me?” I was cursing Cory’s parents.
I have this minor problem. There are two of me. Same name, same birth date, both of us live in LA. My doppelganger is a felon. I told him and he said, “Oh, that’s OK. We run into that all the time. Usually DNA tests can get you out of prison.” I was cursing even the concept of booting and enforcement.
He finished reading the fine print and decided that I’m probably not a felon and said that, yes, it’s a “curio.” He would let me off with a strong warning. He said it’s legal to sell the item as a “curio,” but it’s illegal to own one. I looked at him, and he just smiled. “Yeah, I know,” he said. “Makes no sense.”
Things were starting to look up. The TSA now reappeared in the form of a non-uniformed woman whose job it was to make me understand that they were only doing their jobs, and that if I thought about it, I was really the one in the wrong here. She did not succeed, but I kept my mouth shut. First time for everything.
The TSA uniform returned with the paperwork and my tickets and ID. The cop returned with a form that I should sign. He said he would fill it in later – all routine, nothing to see here. I signed and hurried to my plane. I was able to walk on board just as the door closed.
Thinking back on it, all’s well that ends well. So thanks to Cory, Matt, Bart, and the rest of the PayLock team and their various relatives and parents, this is a story I will be able to tell forever. But because of the TSA, I won’t have the pleasure of wearing brass knuckles when I open a fine vintage red.
***
According to a survey by Accenture, people can be induced to purchase an electric vehicle (EV) – now get this – if free parking goes along with it. Oh, please. Not that old saw again. First, it was high-mileage vehicles, then hybrids, and now EVs. This is ludicrous on its face.
What’s going to happen? Is the government going to come to a private business and demand that they give away their product to someone just because they purchase an EV?
And how do you make it happen? If you pull a ticket on the way in, go up to the POF machine, what do you do? Tell it you are driving an EV? Yah, right. Or does the cashier let you out for free – another way to steal.
You know what I think? If you are going to charge based on the car, it should be based on vehicle size – SUVs pay more than Minis. Fine, they take up more space.
So how is an EV driver going to ensure that he or she gets a free parking space? Will they park in spaces run only by the local authority? What if they want to park at a cricket match or football game and the local team – can you say Cleveland Browns? See Charlie and Wanda’s comments on PT’s Facebook page – won’t give them a free space. Does someone end up suing someone?
California is stopping its free ride for hybrids in carpool lanes. The hybrid owners are irate. They thought that since they bought a hybrid, they could use the carpool lanes forever. Guess again.
So how much free parking does an EV owner get? They pay 41K for a nice Volt, expecting free parking, and then in a couple of years the government changes its mind.
The entire concept is ridiculous. Buy an EV to save the whales, but you won’t unless you get free parking? Enough already.

Article Abstract from July, 2011




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