Thursday, April 28, 2005

tales from the parking wars

The local media has gone gung-ho about tales of parking ticket quotas and increased driver rage against the parking cops. None of this surprises me, given several sketchy tickets I've received for parking on my street. A permit doesn't make you immune from zealous officials. I've learned not to park in certain spots, regardless of how they are marked.

The weirdest ticket happened five years ago. In front of my house, there are two legal spots. Between our driveway and a short alleyway behind Mt. Pleasant, there's an illegal spot, marked as a "no standing" zone by a pole in front of my house. One night, the front of the car was sitting about 5 cm in front of the pole. 5 cm too far for a parking cop early one May morning.

Here's an entry on the ticket from my journal - I used to number each installment, giving up after one volume disappeared along with the backpack it was in.

948: 25 May 00
Wha' The Fuh?

It was not a good way to start off the day.

I was starting on my way to work when I noticed a piece of yellow paper sticking out of the top end of the hood of my car. Couldn't figure out why I received a parking ticket - I'd parked in the space in front of the house many times and never seen anyone ticketed. I'd assumed that the "no standing" sign referred to the space just beyond the driveway.

Upon closer inspection, there was something fishy about the ticket. The location given was "nr 153 Manor Rd", when I was parked directly in front of 145 Manor Rd. The ticket stated I had no valid permit (I later found out this meant the ability to park in a no-standing zone). Then came the kicker - it was dated May 26th.

May 26th is tomorrow.

When I got to work, I called Dad for advice. He confirmed what I'd already thought about doing, which was calling up parking and fight the ticket. After a short hold period, I reached a parking rep who sounded completely out of it. They must have been sick, cranky, in caffeine-withdrawl or some combination of the three. They weren't helpful, other than suggesting I should go downtown and get somebody to look at the car.

The subway crawled its way downtown, a ride reminiscent of the Northern Line in London. The wait between Union and St. Andrew was like the usual delay between Camden Town and Euston. The longer I sat in the subway, the more my stomach twisted, attempting to control my rage.

Luckily things went smoothly at Metro Hall. The wrong date was my salvation, as a friendly clerk cancelled the ticket. My body breathed a sign of relief, though I still feel drained from the experience.

Questions still run through my head. Why had I never been ticketed there before? Was a rookie responsible? A drunk cop? A prankster? A jerk?

Since that time, I have always parked behind the pole. This hasn't pleased other drivers—someone once left a condescending note on my windshield that a third car could have fit in the space, another time an SUV driver yelled at me as I was getting out of the car for not leaving enough room for him. When I explained what had happened, he launched into a stream of obscenities that I quietly walked away from. - JB

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