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A favorite stop in Panama City is always Riba Smith for all those wonderful things not available in most grocery stores.  Today I stopped into the Riba Smith store in MultiPlaza (Panama City).  For those who are not familiar with MultiPlaza, it is one of several large shopping complexes with too many stores to count and endless parking available.

Parking, like driving in the city, is always a challenge however the large shopping complexes seem to have plenty at long as you are willing to walk a bit.   In the not too distant past, MultiPlaza introduced a system to collect a parking fee.   You get the first hour free and then a fee is charged for any additional time.

After my shopping, I enjoyed a coffee and Cinnabon (another wonderful treat of coming to the city).   Wandering back to my car I remembered that you must first find one of the parking pay machines and get your ticket validated.   Plenty of newbies get all the way to the exit gate only to find they must return to the shopping center and get their ticket validated.

As I fumbled with my coffee and packages, I managed to stuff the parking ticket into the machine.   Expecting the time to be free, I was surprised to see the machine wanting 2 cents.   REALLY?  Not outrageous but certainly an annoyance.   Of course as I search my pockets for those every present copper coins, I have none.   Here they want my 2 cents worth and I would rather give them a piece of my mind.   Ever calm, I set down my packages, coffee and dig around to find some small coin so as not to get $19.98 cents in change by using the $20 dollar bill in my pocket.   The line behind me continues to grow with impatient patrons.

After completing my transaction I began thinking of about the absurdity of the entire experience.   Examining my receipt, I see that I was over the 1 hour free time by just one minute!   Shaking my head at how even more absurd the entire thing was, I get in the car and prepare to exit the lot.   Unfortunately, the line of cars exiting the lot was more than a dozen cars deep because the exit gate and machine were not working correctly.   As 10-15 minutes ticked by every so slowly you could see all of the drivers getting more and more impatient, waiting for a workman to come lift the gate and let the cars exit.

Held hostage at the exit and remembering the days of free parking... I realize there is no such thing as free parking any more.   Keep those pennies handy, you are going to need them.


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