In my capacity as a parking enforcement officer in a small southern California town, you would think I have it pretty easy but you couldn’t be more wrong, especially where my sanity is concerned. The rules seem simple enough for anyone to follow but not the residents of my fair city, oh no. It’s as if the driving manual you were supposed to have read in order to get a license was written in Mandarin or worse, English.


            For example, we all know that generally the color red means “Stop” or simply “No.” But in my town if a curb is painted red, these folks take it to mean it’s okay to pull over to talk on their cell phone, consult a map, or apply make-up (the women usually but I do live near Hollywood so you never know). If a curb is painted green, this allows the driver to park there for a period of not longer than ten minutes. No one around here seems to own a watch. You just try to judge ten minutes without some kind of timepiece. Go ahead, I’ll wait…. See, it’s difficult isn’t it?


When people see one of us coming, we get different reactions. My favorite is fear and paranoia, but there is also derision (as if we were wearing Boy Scout uniforms), contempt (as though we were the ones who parked their car on the lawn), or outright hatred (as though we were decked out in full SS regalia). It’s not our fault the city put up those pesky signs advising people not to park in certain places at certain hours. “Can you give me a warning?” they sometimes plead. I just point a finger at the sign (I won’t say which finger) and say, “The sign is the warning.” When they ask, “What sign?” first I check to see if they’re kidding. If they aren’t, I check to see if I have a temperature.


Sometimes women will try to flirt their way out of a ticket. This does not work. In all this time, I’ve not gotten one telephone number from any woman who wanted me to look the other way. Under other circumstances when I’ve tried to get a telephone number it’s the woman who looks the other way, but that’s another story. Once a zaftig woman came flouncing out of her house in just a towel asking me not to cite her. The towel stayed, so did the ticket.


            People do such unbelievable things like parking facing the wrong way, staying all day in a two hour zone or parking so they block the sidewalk that I have to wonder how they were raised. “It’s okay Johnny, do whatever you want. There are no consequences in life at all.” Don’t we wish. Sometimes I just question what the heck they are putting in the drinking water out here. It boggles my mind so much I may just have to speak with the police shrink or a good bartender.