The Art of Being Frugal

O.K. So, ask me how I spent $60 for a free concert.

On Monday night, our choir director was performing in the choir for Durufle’s Requiem at a church downtown. Full orchestra. Fancy church. The works. So, Mrs. R and I decided to venture into the dark and cruel city to attend. (Note for those not familiar with Orlando: “dark and cruel” is sarcastic.) My first mistake was in consulting MapQuest to find out where the church was. My second mistake was not printing out the directions.

Thus armed with my faulty memory of imperfect driving directions, we set forth.

Actually, the first part of the trip was not too bad. Most of the traffic at 6:30pm is headed away from the city, so the driving was reasonably fright-free (Note for those not familiar with I-4 in Orlando: “fright-free” is not sarcastic.) We made it down to the church early enough that I was able to convince my spouse with reasoned argument (whining) that the reason I was driving the wrong direction down a one-way street was due to hunger.

And what dining establishment do you think complements Durufle’s Requiem?
Me, too. Pommes frites et pounders quarts avec du fromage.
So, off we went to find a McDonald’s.

Side rant: Technology for technology’s sake.

When we sat down at the restaurant, we were immediately greeted by the trash can. Yes, I said “trash can”. You see, at this McDonald’s, they have self-compacting garbage cans that talk. I am not making this up! (Actually, if I visited the city more than once a year, I might have seen these things before.) Anyway, as nice as it might be for your waste receptacle to say “Thank you!” every time you feed it some trash, I find it disconcerting when the garbage cans are more polite than the employees…But at least the starved-for-attention lobby attendant took time out to tell us that they can reprogram it to say anything they want: “We make it burp and fart…except when the supervisor’s around.”

Oh, yeah! Tech for tech’s sake.

Well, why do you need a self-compacting trash can? So the lobby person doesn’t have to use their “tamper” to beat down the mounds of discarded burger wrappers? That takes, what, five seconds? This particular trash bucket malfunctioned while we were there…it wouldn’t open after it finished munching. The employee beat on it for several minutes, before the manager tried kicking it. Time to get trash compacted for the next use: 15 minutes.

Finally, we headed back to the church for the concert.

Besides the one-way streets, parking is another city headache. There are plenty of places to park…it’s just that they’re all illegal. So, when I found a parking garage conveniently located across the street from the church, I was amazed and delighted. Who notices those signs that say, “For bank patrons and club members only” anyway? We parked the car, taking note that the garage closed at 10pm.

The concert was fabulous. I couldn’t help noticing dona eis requiem in the text and going “whompf!”, but even Charmian giggled at that. (Note for those not familiar with Monty Python: Why the hell are you reading this?)

Now comes the part about the $60.

At 9pm, when we returned to our vehicle (make that tried to return), we found that the parking garage and the building containing it were closed! No attendants. No guards. Closed. Our car was in sight–behind steel bars…

Fortunately, we are not panicky people. Across the street from the parking garage is the posh, Westin Grand Bohemian hotel. So, we sauntered into the lobby (being careful not to breathe too much, in case they were charging for air) and asked the concierge for a taxi. Assuming we were guests (or carrying out her weekly charity work for the poor), she called us a cab. She could have called us worse things…

So, one $30-cab-ride-home later, we were met by our daughter as we stepped out of the taxi: “What did you guys do now?”

Oh, yeah, and I lost the parking stub in the taxi…

The parking company was very understanding, I must say. Even though their sign says they close at ten, the building closes at nine, and they only charged me five bucks.

Never park in a garage without reading the fine print.

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