A few days ago, our little family paid a visit to the hospital. Nothing to worry about now, everyone’s OK.

However…

Who are the weirdos who decided to set up the St. Joe’s Hospital parking garage with street-style ticket vending machines? These things force you to take a guess at how long you’re going to be waiting at the hospital. Guess too long and you’ve been gouged for $12 to park an hour. Guess too short and you run the risk of getting ticketed, or towed. It looks like they used to have a proper pay-on-the-way-out system, but they’ve decommissioned it: the booths sit empty, and the liftgates have been removed. They have a guy making the rounds in a golf cart to make sure everyone’s paid up.

It’s perverse, really. If I was a betting man, I’d put my money on long waiting times in the ER nowadays. But wait – it costs me more to err that way. And unlike a trip to the store, you can’t just run out and buy more time if you or a loved one is receiving medical treatment, or waiting in line for it.

Even if you buy the maximum time for $15, it’s only good through 6am the next day. So if it turns out you’re in worse shape than you thought and have to be admitted, your car’s at the mercy of the dude in the golf cart.

I can only guess is this was some sort of cost-cutting measure (i.e. eliminate parking attendant wages). I realize hospitals are strapped for cash, but this is cruel.