DAMN! From 50 metres, I could see the white paper stuck under the wiper blade. I was parked in the city and reasonably sure I was complying with regulation.
Well, as reasonably sure as you can be with a head choc-full of hay fever or what Doctor Google calls seasonal rhinitis. Even the soothing waters of the Pacific only provide temporary relief. The grass and tree pollens of spring are dreadful to those with allergies.
Regular readers would know I am an enthusiastic advocate for parking officers doing their thing. Without them, the city streets would fall into complete anarchy. Novocastrians would give even less of a rat's about signage than they do now.
With a council election due in under 12 months, we ain't gonna hear about any parking strategy and any plans to drastically reduce parking that has no fee attached.
But eagle-eyed reader Glenn Baggs (Letters, 4/10) from Newcastle, reckons he can smell change. Mr Baggs, who writes he has been swimming every morning at Bar Beach for over 50 years noticed CoN are "currently busy installing sensors in all the beach car parks from Bar Beach to Merewether Beach". Mr Baggs reckons CoN will tell you it's part of the Smart Cities Program. But he believes CoN are gearing up for paid parking at our beaches.
We can all relax. Such a whack won't happen overnight and almost certainly not until after the local government elections next September. Remember the near 50 per cent rise over five years in residential rates backed by Labor and the Greens in November 2014 just after the election?
What irks me is not the hike itself, but that a hike of that magnitude was not openly canvassed with voters before the election. Labor had argued against residential rate rises. The previous April, Cr Nelmes told the council that "we don't have enough standing in the community at the moment to jack up rates this much".
That was for a 37.5 per cent rise. And the previous February, Labor and the Greens voted against a 1.1 per cent rise in residential rates. I guess the election result in 2014 provided "enough standing in the community" and a green light to jack the rates up even more than Labor had previously argued against.
No real surprises there. "Circumstances" in politics change more often than the five-eighth at the Newcastle Knights.
But Mr Baggs, I reckon you're on the money. There's no way any political candidate will be going into the election canvassing or suggesting paid parking at the beaches. But if a city parking strategy is to really alter the obsession with free car parking in this city, it will have to be a massive change.
It's remarkable how much parking is now available at Marketown on the Woolies side since management introduced boom gates and started charging for parking exceeding two hours. The deep-rooted fear in the Novocastrian DNA for shelling out money for personal convenience is a very effective behaviour modification tool.
Luckily, the white paper under my windscreen wiper was not a notice to transfer personal funds to Revenue NSW. But it was a note that had angry jumping off the page. It castigated me for parking that was "far from acceptable".
The internet will provide an ongoing record of my poor effort.
Fair enough. The car was almost a metre over the front-line marker. Not cool.
I deserved the spray. I looked at the note, considered its message, felt its frustration.
In my plea for clemency to you, note-writer, I did jump out of the car and went straight to the shower, stuck my head in a vapour bowl and swallowed half a pharmacy.
I returned to the car around 60 minutes later after a hopeless attempt to rest and stop coughing. Slightly mitigating circumstances?
This Twatt (nice touch) - me - has been called out for selfish parking. Fair cop. Guilty as charged. I confess. It was a very poor parking effort that inconvenienced another and the internet will provide an ongoing record of my poor effort.
Public shaming and humiliation is the increasingly common and quickly achieved retribution of our age, and is available to those with a camera, an internet connection and an inclination for righteousness.
From this episode, I take the salutary advice provided by President Trump to Turkey's President Erdogan last week.
I won't be a tough guy. I won't be a fool.
And I will park with more attention in the future.