Friday, December 9, 2011

Parking Ticket

Okay, so last evening, I stopped by the local law enforcement place, the Police Station, as it’s called here. I had to pay a ten dollar parking ticket for a meter that had recently expired. The ticket dropbox is inside the front door on the left – I’ve been there before. Because it’s a small parking lot, there were no spots available. Because it’s a small town, I shrugged. Because I’m not real big and my car isn’t either, and because dropping this ticket will take me somewhere between thirteen and seventeen seconds, I parked directly in front of the Police Station.
            Now, look, before I get too far into this, I was wrong. I know that. I should not have parked there. I get it. I am a law follower, a rule abider from way back. I loved standing in line in elementary school. I always appreciated the piercing rattle of a refs whistle. I should not have parked there – my bad.
            So: give me a ticket. Tow my car. Arrest me and chain me to the floor of the Police Station – I will abide.
            Instead, this happened: a cop who had been parked in the parking lot, chased me inside the Police Station and says, “Is that your Kia?”
            We're the only two people in the building. He saw me get out of the car. He had done quite a piece of detective work. I said, “Yes.”
            He said, and this is what gets me, “Don’t you think it’s kind of stupid to park your car beside a yellow curb in front of a police station?”
            My fingers were, as he spoke, cramming the parking ticket – the parking ticket that I was paying without complaint – into the dropbox, and I was turning on my heel to run back out to my car. I could have made excuses. I could have said, “Well I’m only going to be a second.” Not to mention the fact that I had the impression this door would be locked soon, and I was on my way to pick up my preschooler. Still, did I think it was dumb. Fucking-A “Yes,” I said, about the dumbest fucking thing I’ve done all day.
            But I just said, “Yes.” And turned on my meanface. No reason to turn on my meanface, just an impulse I’ve been taught. I dropped my chin, let my eyes go dead, stared through him and the cinder block wall behind him. I don’t even mind being called stupid. Simply this, and I remember this from even elementary school: I do not abide being lectured. Give me a ticket, officer, but do not lecture me.
            He said, “I strongly suggest you go move your car soon.”
            I knew who had the power there. I knew that he was likely to see my car and me going twenty-six in the twenty zone on my way to preschool soon. I know where he sits, and, despite the fact that there is always a row of six or ten cars trying to pass me at forty in that twenty zone, I know what’s at stake for meanfacing a cop. But, like I say, I don’t abide a lecture. I said, “Thanks for the advice,” and stood staring through him waiting for another wisdom nugget to issue forth from his claimhole.
            He turned on his heel, though, and fidgeted with cop things on the bulletin board, such that it was clear the only reason he’d come into the building was to let me know I was an idiot.
            The joke’s on him: I already knew.

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