Sunday, July 15, 2012

Well, my time as a parking violations officer has come to a close, at least for the short term. Perhaps I will take up the chalkstick (for marking tires - to see if cars have moved (the town i worked in has a two-hour limit on parking spaces and the tire marks keep tabs on wether or not cars have moved...)... but i like(d) to think of the chalk mark on the tires as positive reinforcement - my hope = that motorists would see the evidence that i'd been by, and feel gratified that they'd paid the meter for good reason.

A brief aside on the two hour limit: i directly confess that i was lenient on this one - there were (many-ish) times when i declined to write tickets to vehicles apparently lingering beyond the two-hours-maximum-per-parking/space... i did this for a confluence of reasons, the main two being: 1. if the vehicles continued to purchase parking time (aka "feeding the meter")... and, 2. there were clearly available parking spaces nearby during the duration. My explanation: i could not justify, even knowing that this a county ordinance AND knowing that this was my job, writing individuals tickets for not going to the (and this is why) belittling lengths to leave work, shopping, dinner, friends (this is why people come to town!) to get into their car and drive around (often not far) simply to drop it in another space (as close as luck allows) to where they just were. Also, i KNOW some people OFTEN wiped the marks off their tires (it wouldn't feel right ignoring that and noticing a more honest, if less lawful approach). So, in a way, the 2-hr thing just wasn't "my trip," and I'm glad i survived. *One of my co-workers took this part of the job so seriously that tire-wipers were often threatened with the police being called on them for plying their slyness... not that my-coworker didn't get the really infuriating ones anyway, simply by marking less conspicuous areas, often on another tire... again, to each as they must.

Anyway... continuing, yet detouring for one more point along the way...i WOULD write these "Beyond Legal Limit" (two hours, outlined above) citations to vehicles that were simply "abandoned" for the day - vehicles which had no legitimate parking time purchased, and also remained unmoved longer than two hours. ..and i would write one every two hours to that same vehicle as long as it remained so. Don't park like that. It gets costly.

By the end (Now), my bosses had never complained about my work/productivity, and I left the job with an open invitation to return. I am thankful for that, and I just might return some day; I really enjoyed working outdoors, being able to listen to podcasts&music (at a safe volume, and courteously and attentively, of course), as well as not having someone constantly asking me about my "progress" - they get a report of my work every day, and that should be sufficient supplement to our interactions in the, apparently, it was.


For Now, until November 2012, my "employment" will be various farm- and fiber (yarn, etc..) production- related tasks at a small operation in the National Forest areas of middle Pennsylvania. I will be living in a cabin without running water or electricity. Quite a difference, and exciting. This begins in 4 weeks. Until then, I will be readying myself for the move, trying to sell many of the material goods i've been using and caring for for the past 4 years, and having some quality time with my pals across the land.

I'll leave you now, for a period, with one of the last notes I collected from my parking duties. Preface: as you, dear reader, may already be aware, in many cities parking time is dispensed from a kiosk located somewhere (hopefully) near parking, rather than each space hosting a specific parking meter. This is generally favored by parkers as coins aren't necessary - parking can be paid for with credit/debit and paper money, in addition to coins (*including half and whole dollar pieces - foreign coin not yet accepted). In my city, a parking credit is then dispensed on a little sheet of paper which the motorist puts upon the dashboard or behind a windshield wiper. Ok. Check. BUT...sometimes the machine malfunctions: it could be that the machine's out of paper, or the modem connection is severed, the machine's jammed, full, vandalized, etc... sometimes it just doesn't work for mysterious reasons. But, most of the time, it works. Ok. So, below is a note I watched a guy write from down the block. I watched him post it and return to his vehicle. I then made my way down the block expecting him to engage me in discussion, which he did, whereupon he surprised me by having a voice which I could not derive meaning from; he spoke my native language, English, but with a regional accent that would've made his speech difficult to interpret had he not also had the rasp of a lifelong smoker which made all intelligibility completely lost. His voice sounded like scraping stones together, and little more or less. After some time of him talking and pointing towards the kiosk with a frustrated tone and facial expressions, i simply pointed to his car and said: "Sorry. This car parks for free." When I got down to the kiosk i checked out his note, and I liked it so much that I brought it home for all of us, leaving, of course, a note on official stationary (ticket envelope) referring perturbed parkers to another kiosk across the street, with sincere apologies (shoot, i ain't working all night (trying to help em out)).

Ok, here it is.

* I love the illuminated first letter; the variety of script, print, and lower and upper case letters; little "ing" in "takeing"; the "i'v" spelling (which is apparently acceptable according to my spellchecker); the subject-verb disagreement; and the implied paranoia (the machine won't take money if it's not working - it blocks the coin slot, spits bills back out, won't run a card, and clearly states on the digital display that the machine is not working, and sorry for the trouble.)

A great final specimen. Reveals so much about most (after 2 years of this job, i stand by this claim) peoples' relationship with parking.

It does, however, have something (i feel is very special, and deep to suggest): it implies a question that I might never have been able to ponder/suggest had it not been through this avenue, and the question is: how much of one's inclination to hyperbole/willingness to embellish/"lie" is inspired by difficulties in rudimentary communication?

As usual, always lots to consider.

To paraphrase Gandhi on the way out for a bit, let's remember that each of us CAN "be the change we wish to see."

Thanks friends!

TWYS (talk/type with ya soon)

Be well. In joy.

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