The time has come to renew my membership to the Lincoln Park Zoo and I’m doing it the old-fashioned way: by mailing in my renewal application instead of paying online. Why not use the modern convenience of online bill pay? First, some context.
While I might have skipped a year here and there, I have been a member of the Lincoln Park Zoo since the late 90s. Why am I a paying member of something that is free and open to the public? I’d like to say it was because of my philanthropic side, but I cannot even spell that word.
In the beginning it was to save on parking at the zoo. No I didn’t frequent the zoo very often like a deranged psychopath. I played volleyball nearby in the evenings and the zoo removed the parking meters and started charging a hefty sum to park there. It was a flat fee whether you got there when the zoo first opened or half an hour before they closed. I don’t remember the exact cost but I was Hella Poor and making Diddly over Squat paycheck wise so this was valuable beer money going away.
One of my Vball friends clued me into the zoo membership. For $30 you got a membership that came with free parking. After a few weeks of volleyball the pass paid for itself. So I bought and renewed the pass for a long time. the rates did go up of course. I’m sure someone at the zoo noticed a spike in membership around summer volleyball season and adjusted accordingly.
When I switched from playing volleyball to running marathons, I still kept the membership because there were enough 5 and 10K races that started nearby to take advantage of the It was always still a good deal and I could rationalize it by being all philanthropic to the zoo.
About that philanthropic thing: I am aware that there are some serious ethical concerns about zoos and keeping animals in captivity. I don’t know enough on this and am reading up,and at the moment addressing this aspect of zoos feels like it would be sticking my head into a hive of angry hornets and why would I want to do that?
Growing up in Humboldt Park, we didn’t really have a lot of spare coinage. My friends and I would hop on the North Ave bus and head to the zoo because it was something free to do that got us out of the neighborhood. Yes we were free-range children. Sometimes we’d try to get our visit in and make it back on the same transfer, but most of the time we made a day of it by going to the beach and/or walking through Old Town.
So for the moment, I’m of the opinion that zoos do more good than harm but am open to evidence of the contrary.
Oh and the The Reason I’m using snail mail is because I do not want this charge to appear on my credit card statement until the next cycle.
Now that I’m not running as much, and have all the expenses involved with raising two socially-conscious child with beautiful manners and high self-esteem it is a little tricky to justify the $175 that would be required. [You need a Safari or higher level membership to get the unlimited free parking]. So my work around is to defer the payment as long as possible.
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