On Monday I had a puncture on my way to work. It wasn't so bad—I wasn't required urgently at the salt mine and there was a convenient sunny patch on a nearby low wall where I could sit and do my repair.

As I got on with the job, I was able to observe an interesting and sad phenomenon that I wouldn't have noticed just riding by. While I was sitting there, a constant stream of cars pulled-in to the kerb-side parking spots along the street. At first I didn't pay it much attention. I just assumed that the clock had ticked-over the end of the clearway and the parking spots were naturally filling.

Then I noticed that people weren't jumping out of their cars and leaving. They were sitting in their cars or just milling about near the ticket machine. Slowly it dawned on me that these people were getting in early: parking before the clearway time had ended so they would get a space for their car and then hanging around until parking time opened so they could buy a parking docket.

And for some reason I found it really rather sad that these folks were either making themselves late or arriving unreasonably early for whatever their business was, just so that they could have the privilege of parking their cars conveniently.