So I had just sat down to lunch at a window seat at a down town eatery. The city I live in has a great old section that is well preserved and view from my second story perch was of a cobblestone street running like an orderly riverbed around granite foundations and street lamps. One of the difficulties of old cobble stone streets and 200+ year old buildings is the “picturesque” to “usable” ratio. In short, these street’s don’t accommodate modern vehicles well. Especially if you drive a soccer-mom mobile. As I munched away on my sandwich I spotted one of our many, MANY meter readers, doing his thing up and down the side of the road. In a city with such limited parking, they have to really be on top of the parking meters and believe me, they are. One vehicle he stopped at stood out. It was exactly the kind of vehicle that makes fourteen year old boys go “Oooh, MAN! Cool!” but should make any adult roll their eyes. The meter reader stopped, walked around, ran the plate number, wrote something down in his book and then waled briskly away. A minute or two later, he was back with his little truck… and a boot. This must not have been his first ticket because he immediately got out all the tools and started to clamp on the boot. It’s funny. If it was a small sedan or something I probably would have felt bad for the owner, but because it was a too-big-for-the-city, pimped-out mobile with tinted windows and fat tires, I confess it made me giggle inside. Buddha would not have been proud of me.
I watched the cool-mobile get the boot and then watched over my plate of french fries as the owner came out to find his now immovable vehicle. He didn’t look like the type I expected. Nothing too outrageous in his dress or manner but he did have one notable… eh… accessory. His car wore it’s boot on the left front tire. His left leg sported a full air cast. Both of them it seemed, had been booted. He took it in good stride, took the ticket off the windshield and pulled out his cell phone to call the city.
My fries were done and the check was paid and I made my way to my car. As I rounded the corner back to my parking spot, there on the sidewalk was the same meter reader, just finishing the ticket on my car. No boot, just a ticket. I let out a “Aw, drat” as I walked up. I try really hard to keep my profanity “G” rated now that I have a miniature human with an ear for repetition in the house. I plucked the ticket off the wind screen and glanced back at the guy and I saw him cringe a little bit. I can only imagine how much vitriol he’s had directed at him over the years. Talk about a thankless job. I kind of smirked and shrugged with a bit of a pained expression. He brightened almost immediately at my lack of expletives and said “Is that your first ticket since January?” I said that it was and he explained that I didn’t have to pay that one provided I didn’t get another until June. Actually, he called it “complimentary”. I laughed at the idea of a complimentary ticket and he quickly stated that I could put it in a scrap book and leave it for the kids. I laughed again and thanked him for the tip. Unexpectedly, he came back with something I never thought I’d hear a meter reader say. “Hey, if you want, just put the ticket back on your car and I’ll give you another two free hours.” That stopped me. I thanked him again but said that I really did need to get back to work. I unlocked my car and he added, “Don’t be hatin’ “. I tuned back and replied, “Hey, we all gotta work.” and waved good bye to him with my ticket.
We do all gotta’ work, and we could all use some slack for just doing what we’re supposed to do. It’s important to remember that sometimes. Here’s hoping I have enough change to feed the meters for the next three months so I don’t have to chat with him again, though.