Hearts were warmed around the world on Monday when a post from popular Facebook page Canberra Mums went viral. A mum had been in hospital with her nine-week-old baby and after being discharged she found a parking fine on her car.
She opened the envelope to find a note from ‘Laura’ who had paid the fine for her. This is a huge act of kindness and generosity that you certainly don’t see every day of the week. At the time this article was published the post had over 62,000 likes.
It got me thinking though, parking fines would be issued at local hospitals quite regularly and random acts of kindness like this wouldn’t be common. Plenty of people would be slapped with a big fine, which I imagine is the last thing you need when you’re leaving hospital.
Time restricted parking (most parks have a four-hour limit) is available at the Canberra Hospital to deter people who work nearby from parking there all day and taking up spots that need to be used by hospital visitors. This is fair enough.
However, if you go over that four hours by a minute, there’s a chance you’ll find a bright yellow envelope on your windshield.
This seems hugely unfair. If this time restricted parking is in the interests of Canberra’s hospital patients and visitors, why not bring in a system where you receive a ticket on entry and pay on departure – the same system shopping malls use – and legitimate visitors to the hospital can have their ticket validated on their way out so they don’t have to pay.
If other people working nearby want to park there, they can, but make the fees high so they don’t. Hospital wins, hospital visitors win.
I raised this issue on social media, as well as looking at the responses on the Canberra Mums post, and the response was mixed. A lot of people said that if you get a fine and you had genuine business at the hospital you can get the fine waived, whereas others said they tried to get their fine waived but had no luck.
There was also some confusion about who administrates the carparks, whether it was a private company or whether it was a government responsibility as it seems to vary from hospital to hospital, including hospitals in other states.
One person raised the point that if you’re in a paid car park you can top up your ticket via a smartphone app. I think this would have a huge benefit if it was introduced in hospital car parks, but it would depend on each person’s circumstance. If you were visiting a friend with a baby, sure, that would work very well. However if you are with someone who is at death’s door, topping up your parking wouldn’t be in your top 10 priorities.
If the system was genuinely put in place to benefit patients and visitors, I think it needs a few tweaks here and there. Unfortunately not everyone will have a Laura to look after them.