When we traveled the US in 2016, we loved having bicycles to get around and explore, especially in national parks. We decided the family needed bikes.
Wilson and I walked a mile to a truly massive shopping mall yesterday evening and bought two mountain bikes. One for him and one for Jane. We rode them home. Wilson proudly sporting his neon green frame. Me squatting on Jane’s bike trying not to bang my knees into the handlebar.
The next day, Katie and I dropped the kids at choir practice and drove to the same mall in the car. After several missed turns, we parked in the paid parking deck. We purchased our new bikes, brought them down in the elevator, and loaded them into the car.
We headed for the exit. At the automated gate at the exit, I submitted my ticket and attempted to pay. No bueno. The card ejected. Tried again. No. Again. No. My hands were sweating now as cars were flowing out of the parking deck. There were two gates, and we were blocking one of them.
Tried again. No. Again. No. Glance in the side mirror. More cars. More anxiety. Try again. No. Consider driving through the gate arm. No. No. No. Bad idea.
I flagged down a security guard across the lot, waving him over to me. “Yo quiero pagar,” I said. I need to pay. He kindly explained the situation in Spanish, and I could pick up enough to know that I was supposed to pay at a kiosk in the mall.
He let me pull to the side for a moment. Backtracking in the car wasn’t an option as we were in a one way lane coming out of the deck. I ran up the car exit ramp into the parking deck to find a kiosk. I found a kiosk on the second floor. Looked like a straightforward process, and the machine even had an English language option.
American Express rejected. Oh no. Tried again. No. Again. No. A line formed behind me. I pressed cancel and stepped aside. I watched the man immediately behind me go through the process. Same process, but his card worked. He got his receipt and left.
I waited in the line that had formed while I was trying to pay. Katie was still down in the car at the exit, likely wondering what was taking so long.
My turn at the kiosk. Amex rejected again. And again. Ok, try the Visa. Rejected once, twice, again. Ok, cash. Damn, the cash receiver is duct taped. GTFO, it won’t accept cash. The line is forming.
I eject. I leave for another kiosk. The kiosk on the third floor. More duct tape. No cash. Katie still in the car by the exit. The security guard likely wondering what is taking that gringo so long.
I run into the mall and find a row of gleaming kiosks down three floors on the ground level. I find one to accept cash. In the amount of time I had taken trying to pay, the fee for parking had increased from $700 pesos to $900 pesos. The clock had been ticking.
Got the receipt and headed for the car the only way I knew how. I ran up the stairs to the second floor of the parking deck and then ran down the parking lot exit ramp with the one way traffic. There wasn’t a sidewalk or markings for pedestrians on the ramp. I was running beside the cars in the auto lane. Pretty sure everyone concluded I was a foreigner or an idiot.
Exited the gate with the bikes, a back full of sweat, and barely reached choir practice on time to pick up the kids. Whew.
But we got the bikes, and now we’re free to explore the trails and greenways around the city.