The Life Unwired with Ben Combee (unwiredben) wrote,
The Life Unwired with Ben Combee

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Parking Ticket in San Jose

I'm back from my latest trip to California, and I've got a little story. My flight was out around noon on Saturday, but I checked out from my hotel around 8AM to go look for breakfast, thinking I'd see something interesting on a drive down El Camino Real.

As an aside, I love El Camino Real; it's probably my favorite street in California. Named the "royal road", it runs along the whole state, connecting San Diego to LA to San Francisco. The stretch in Silicon Valley from Mountain View to San Jose is a cosmopolitan boulevard; I spotted signs in English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Arabic, Italian, and Spanish on my drive, and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that I missed a few.

Anyway, back to breakfast. I'm not seeing much that's open as I drive through Sunnyvale and Santa Clara. There's the usual fast-food haunts, but that would be boring. Then, I remember that my friend Eric had said that Il Fornaio had polenta at breakfast, so my course was set. I'd have breakfast at the location at the bottom of the Hyatt in downtown San Jose, across the park from the Tech Museum.

The rumors of polenta were false, but they did have a really scrumptious French toast with real maple syrup and Mascarpone cheese that was worth the trip. I savored it while reading a short story, then walked back to my rental car, feeling very happy with the morning. I stopped to take some pictures of the park, and soon found my vehicle marked with an envelope on the window. You see, I had committed a minor crime; I'd parked at a meter, and not fed it any money. Now, in my defense, I was used to Austin's meter situation where you don't need to add money on evenings or weekends. That knowledge didn't transfer well, and now I've got a $23 ticket to pay in the next three weeks, either by mail, phone, or San Jose's parking fine website.

I guess it's a learning experience. It does turn a $7 breakfast into a $30 one, but I think I'll live. Considering that I don't pay taxes in California (well, I guess car rental and hotel taxes count), it's not much to give back for the enjoyment of their public spaces and roads like El Camino Real.
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