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OPINION: City shopper gets message

["All of Charlottetown's parking meters are now smartcard compatible. Each has been outfitted with these numbered yellow stickers."]
Parking meters File Photo

Apparently, you don't want the likes of me coming downtown waving cash and credit cards about

BY J.A. THOMPSON

GUEST OPINION

Open letter to downtown (Charlottetown) merchants:

I got the message . . . really. I'm referring to my attempt at Christmas shopping downtown last week.

I thought it was time to get started on my shopping so I headed downtown one day after lunch. I pulled in a parking space and discovered I didn't have change for the meter.

I went into the closest store to ask for change and the nice lady gave me a parking token. I went back out to find a meter attendant putting a ticket on my windshield. I offered her the token but she said, "too late." From the time I got out of the vehicle to the time I was back with the token was hardly two or three minutes. Talk about efficiency.

At that point, I had lost my interest in shopping so I went to pay my fine. The lady at the police station, while polite, was unsympathetic. Going into a store to get change or a token doesn't count. Once the meter attendant is on the scene it's too late. She said that if I want to shop downtown I need to come prepared.

I then realized that I was being selfish. Everything is not about what I want. I hadn't been taking into consideration what you want. Apparently, you don't want the likes of me coming downtown waving cash and credit cards about - it seems that you just want to be left alone. I now realize that my interest in your wares is both unwanted and unappreciated.

I had someone tell me that you merchants don't control the parking policy but I can't see how that's true - the policy is set by city council whom you elect and your tax dollars pay for parking enforcement. Why would you be paying to have someone chase away customers if you didn't want them to?

And your strategy seems to be working. On a weekday afternoon, three weeks before Christmas, there were lots of available parking spaces and the store I went into only had one other customer at the time.

I understand now that I went downtown where I wasn't wanted. I'm sorry. I got the message. It won't happen again. From now on I'll shop uptown and on Amazon.

- J.A. Thompson is a Charlottetown shopper who feels unwanted in the downtown

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