Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Just the Ticket

I really needed another brush with officialdom. It has, after all, been days since my impromptu 'meet the cops' session which resulted in cringe making tickings off, laborious form filling and time consuming follow ups in sweaty, heavy traffic in an effort to straighten things out.

At 2.40pm today I received my first ever parking ticket. I was a full five minutes late returning to the NCP multi storey so I should have expected it: spitefully yellow, like mustard; a square smudge of polythene vomit glooped onto my already sickly windscreen. Loudly admonitory, shouty-shout thick black letters spelling out angry, ugly legal declarations and cautionary threats - words like: 'warning,' 'offence to remove,' and 'only the driver or else;' words impossible to ignore as I briefly considered the merits of ripping the thing off in a fit of petulance and letting it flutter harmlessly over the concreted side. The same side from which some poor soul in a fit of gut low, wretched despair, bungee jumped several Saturdays ago without the requisite rubber band and harness ensemble. His meloncholia had reached tipping point apparently, and his only solution, to tip himself over and fall to his death. It occurred to me, briefly, that he too might had been a victim of this over zealous jobsworth, this Little Englander, this hero of petty bureaucracy, and I wondered what diabolical pact might have been made between pricket ticket man and his devilish master.

I resisted my twin urges to throw either the ticket or myself over the fourth storey edge and instead prepared to hunt down the small minded asshole who started all this, and throw him over instead. Gloweringly I re-locked my car to seek out my quarry, sticky bag sticking to my sticky mitt - the mitt I was intending to use to stick it - the sticky bag and contents, somewhere else.

I was checked by a young mother who had been busily fussing with a pushchair and her charges and who obviously had only just arrived at the car-park herself. As she passed she proferred a look, partly of sympathy, partly of collusion and, recognising my ire showed me an impish look of excited goading as if, temporarily, we were both back at school, she, tempting the playground tough, me, to go and batter the classroom snitch, who hangs out alone knowing that he's hated, and why.

She made a few references as to how warden No 18 clock-watched the time expiry and with what glee he seemed to write out the ticket and take evidential photographs, which further fuelled my sense of injustice. I ran a little vignette in my head of me marching purposefully up to this little bundle of self-importance and giving him the verbal tongue lash of his life. But once I'd revived myself from my reverie, I didn't. I knew I'd make a mess of it. My imagined angry eloquence would give way to real-time waffling incoherence, handing him all the winning cards. These people - they're pastmasters (and mistresses) at this business. They're well briefed in the art of: "I'm only doing my job sir" and "If sir wishes to appeal he is perfectly at liberty to do so through the appropriate channels," and all have plenty of "The sign over there is quite specific, if you remain parked after the time stated on the ticket purchased you are liable to be issued a penalty parking ticket, sir can read I presume" like statements. And all I would do is puff and blow with indignation. Knowing that I'm bang to rights.

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