The Back Bay Parking Game

David Bates / May 23, 2012-12:50 pm

Consider Back Bay parking a game. Nothing more or less. Just a game.

The game is not about finding a parking spot, it’s about negotiating what you have to do in this great part of the city without getting a parking ticket.

Like any game, it’s an “us versus them” proposition. We are the knowing—Joe Urban, city dwellers, workers or visitors. They are the darkly clad uniformed enforcers.

The ones who don’t know they are in a game, are the most in jeopardy of losing savagely. The naive see a parking space coming free and rush to take it. They congratulate themselves about their cunning or luck only to return an hour later to no car. Why? Because it was street cleaning day for that side of the street and their car is now in a tow yard in Somerville. These parking innocents pop into CVS to get a birthday card and pop out to find a bright orange $40 present on their windshield. These rubes and their friends don’t know the difference between public and commercial spaces or construction signs with the right and wrong dates. On occasion they recognize brightly colored handicapped spots, but they are blind to signs that the space their car currently occupies will become permit only parking at 6PM.

There are eight uniformed enforcers that peruse the streets near my Back Bay office. Few times do I walk a city block without seeing one of them winning a game against one of the parking fails previously mentioned. Every day, clad in ninja black, these busy uniformed pros beat upon the distracted, unsuspecting amateurs who don’t know the rules of the game. According to one I talked to, she wins up to 75 games a shift.

As a Back Bay realtor, who has commercial plates instead of a resident permit sticker, I know I am in the midst of a game and I try to play it to the best of my ability. I wouldn’t field a punt in a football game without thinking first about the ten maniacs who will be trying to rip my head off as soon as the football is in my hands and I won’t leave my car unattended before surveying the nearest temporary and permanent signs and scanning the city landscape for my competitors.  A tip from your realtor parking coach, “Don’t worry about the other guys; do your job and you’ll win a lot of Back Bay parking games.”