CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: Saving $9 Means a Loss of Sixty-Three


(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on July 13, 2011.)


In a casual one-liner last week, I lamented the receipt of a parking ticket but was relieved it was only for 63 bucks. Maybe a full explanation of the circumstances will serve as a reminder that you shouldn’t try to beat the system and another example of CR2S inadvertently adding to an ever-lengthening string of mortifying moments. The back story:

My latest doctor’s office is located on Wilshire Boulevard. [Aren’t they all?] This one is in faraway Santa Monica.  Always an early bird, I make time to cruise around looking for street parking. I make all of my appointments for late morning, noonish, better to avoid potential traffic jams. I’m not about to stroll a long distance to save a few bucks but anything within reason makes sense when medical building parking is $9.

Voila! As if by magic there is a single spot open right off Wilshire. I make a quick U-turn and can’t stop a smile from becoming a smirk. Small pleasures for small minds. It’s like passing a freeway speeder after he gets stuck in the fast lane. Adding to the pleasure is hanging a blue placard to complete the perfect scenario.  Ninety minutes later the dreaded ticket and its convenient (unstamped) envelope is seen fluttering under the windshield wiper.

Once seated in the car, chagrined rather than ticked off, I glance at the meter for the first time. On the stanchion is an easily seen metal sign signifying Tuesdays, 12 noon to 1 p.m., is no parking due to street cleaning. Of all the spaces, it’s the only one with such a limitation. Now I’m PO’d! The city of SaMo is to be congratulated for outlawing plastic bags, to be sure, but to set aside one single meter for a street sweeper? For only an hour? I call it entrapment. Maybe city fathers are confusing circumscribe with circumcision. Whatever. In an effort to save a lousy nine bucks, I’m out sixty-three.  According to my math I’ll have to park on the street seven times in order to break even.

If my (current #11) doctor lasts that long, I’ll have a shot at it. I have my doubts, but you never know.  Whenever a procedure is in order he schedules me for a 5:30 appointment in Westwood.  That’s not p.m., folks, that’s when the rooster cockadoodledoos! Have you ever heard of such an appointment time? A minor consolation is the total lack of traffic on the Santa Monica Freeway at 5 o’clock in the a.m.

Howard Nishimura is a long-time Li’l Tokyo businessman-activist.  Now he has the honor of joining yours truly in a rather dubious category: an innocent, unsuspecting victim of the “I’ve been robbed” email scam.

Over the weekend I received an urgent message, purportedly from the CPA traveling in Europe, that he had been the victim of a robbery. Now he was without funds, passport, luggage, in dire need of cash — a loan — to tide him over until returning home.

It seems like eons ago but a quick check of past columns reveals my hacking experience was a mere 16 months ago. It took four days to clean up my computer, getting rid of a fake Yahoo account that made the swindle attempt possible and returning everything and everybody back to normal. The 90 or so recipients of the bogus call for help reached from Los Angeles to Japan, requiring numerous telephone calls to clear the air. As far as Nishimura’s plight is concerned, I emailed a facetious message of anxiety to a mutual friend yesterday and have yet to receive an update or a “har-har-har” response as this is being written. [Sudden Thought Department: What if, perchance,  Howard really was mugged in Spain?  Nah, Thailand maybe, but not Espana.] I can’t help but wonder how many of these pathetic attempts to bamboozle really work.  In my case, one concerned individual actually responded to the plea and received instructions on how to relay the needed ($3,200) funds.

Belated kudos to Martha Nakagawa for her well-researched biography of Rose Ochi in the Rafu’s special graduation edition. The epitome of an unselfish public servant, Ochi has been a prime mover for almost a half-century in local, state and national affairs; a gadfly par excellence without being overbearing or demanding recognition. If there is ever to be a select list of 100 most prominent Nisei, CR2S would rank her high, female or male. For the sake of argument, let’s nominate her for the Top 20. [And for what it’s worth, Nakagawa’s narrative is the type of story that automatically should be translated for the Rafu Japanese Section.]


W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.




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