Short Friction

Writing to entertain and to stimulate thought

The parking inspector

with 2 comments

Gordon is a parking inspector. This is what he tells people. Well, actually, Gordon tells people many things, depending on the circumstances, and what will get the most positive results for him. But when he is putting tickets on illegally parked cars, this is what he tells people — “I am a parking inspector,” he says, “and parking in a clearway like that at peak-hour is really going to cost you.” If the person he is addressing in these circumstances is the owner of the offending vehicle, or at least intimately connected with it in some way (more often than not the latter are the more desperate — sons and daughters get very worried about earning their parents very expensive parking violations), they will generally respond in one of several fashions. Gordon has noticed that in this increasingly fast-paced, self-serving age, verbal insults and physical aggression are on the rise. Many an individual has attempted to evoke an air of superiority over the slight figure of Gordon. Due to the rather complex and tentative nature of Gordon’s position, he is often quite willing to listen to such lines of reasoning and at least reduce, if not withdraw altogether, the fine in question. He actually gets a kind of satisfaction out of doing this, because he knows the individual’s successful threatening of an officer of the law will lead to an inflated confidence and future attempts at attempting the same trick. But given that in those instances they will actually be threatening a fully authorised officer, they will no doubt be in for a rather unpleasant surprise when the full force of the law is mercilessly applied to them.

The other strategy, becoming progressively less common, is the weeping tale of woe. Gordon has heard some very good ones, and plans to pad out his already ample income with a published collection at some later date.

“Well now, doesn’t that just finish off a particularly awful day nicely! You know… oh, you probably don’t care — I bet you hear this all the time — but… well, the strangest thing happened to me today. See, I was driving down Royal Parade there [points] and the traffic’s pretty slow like it often is at Mothers-and-Children rush-hour on a rainy Friday — so I’ve got time to look around a bit, see. So I’m looking out the window and there’s this old guy on the footway by the park there [points] and he’s just bent over the grass vomiting his guts up! Well, of course he’s holding a brown paper bag and he’s got that scruffy look about him — sure I try not to be judgmental but we all jump to conclusions, and what would you think if you saw a scruffy old beggar with a brown paper bag puking his guts in the middle of the day in the rain next to a bike track?…”

Intense stare is directed at Gordon. “Well now,” says Gordon after deliberately allowing the pause, just to annoy this desperate fellow, “I’d think, ‘There’s a poor dopey drunk!’”

“Ex-actly. So that’s what I think of course. But traffic’s stopped now and I’ve been watching the codger for a couple-a minutes and he’s still there puking away and… well, I figured I should just see if I can do something for him, right? So the traffic starts moving and I get to here and I park the car here across this driveway — hey I know as well as you do no-one ever uses this driveway except when there’s a footy game on — so I park here and I walk back to the guy and he’s stopped puking for the moment but still looking pretty sick in the face — you know how a person gets to looking real ill around the eyes, y’know? [Hand vaguely waves around the face in an attempt to indicate illness around the eyes, whatever that is.] So I go to the guy and I say, ‘Can I help you mate?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, see, I’s been picking these mushrooms, and I ate some to see if they’s okay… and —’ … and you know the old codger just starts laughing here when he tells me this … ‘and they’s obviously not.’ So they guy just starts laughing uncontrollably now, and he falls on the ground and his bag splits open and all these … these toadstools spill out, and the old fella’s on the ground and he’s kinda writhing — like you’d think only happens in movies and what-not, and he’s flippin’ about on the ground and he starts saying that he wishes the pixies would stop tickling him, or something, because it’s making it very difficult for him to tell me his car’s the one parked just back there [points vaguely] and here are his keys and could I drive him just down the road to the hospital to get his stomach pumped — he’d drive himself only he’d have trouble with the pixies tickling him and all the giant cane-toads on the road and his judgement not being what it was and him thinking he’d probably have an accident swerving around one of them, especially the really big critter he could see down by the Ladies’ college smoking pot and singing songs from ‘Fiddler on the Roof’. I try to get him to go in my car, but he says it looks set to swallow him whole and never spit him up, so he’ll only go if I drive him in his car — which of course I do, and I don’t even think about that I’m parked illegally… and I take him to the hospital and then at emergency they ask me all these questions like who is the guy, and where does he live and stuff… and I don’t know, only they don’t seem to understand that. And the guy’s no help because by this time he’s crawling on the floor looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow — you know — following those parallel coloured stripes they put on the floor in Emergency so people know exactly where to go without thinking about it. Not that it really works — I mean, who knows what colour to follow? You’ve gotta walk for hours just to find a sign that tells you what each colour even means. Anyway, I ended up having to stay there like, an hour, and then I gets back here and you, ya’ piece of work, are here giving me a ticket. Great lotta thanks I get for being a good Sumerian.”

“Samaritan. … Yeah, killer of a story, that. Look, don’t worry about it, the old guy will be just fine. You just make sure you pay your fine here, and you’ll be just fine, too.” Then Gordon will pat the disbelieving desperado on the shoulder and walk away with an official-looking swagger. This is how he operates: Listen. Nod. Act sympathetic while actually being a ruthless scoundrel.

Gordon’s scam works like this: He issues parking tickets. He issues them properly — only where a genuine violation has been made, and never to government cars, police cars, or anyone else who might happen to notice these aren’t the official sort of parking tickets that are issued by official sorts of people.

Gordon has arranged a tricky system involving credit-, cheque- or direct-transfer-only payments of parking violations into his Swiss bank account. People who get parking tickets are generally so upset by the whole experience that the last thing they would consider is that it could be a fraud. People will create every other possible scenario to deny this ticket was deserved — they were only there for a second, they weren’t really parked illegally, it just sort of looked that way, they didn’t deserve a ticket because it was a genuine misunderstanding… whatever. But they would generally pay up while maintaining this firmly held belief that it was all a big mistake. Little did they know that if their ticket was from Gordon it was worse than a mistake — it was a deliberate deception. And so far, a deception that was paying very well. Gordon pretty much had the beats of the “genuine article” parking inspectors worked out. With Victorian parking fines often exceeding $100 for a single offence, Gordon could make a pretty packet handing out fines along some obscure permit zone that the real police rarely bothered with. On a particularly good day he could make as much as five grand.


Written by shortfriction

01/06/2009 at 14:33

2 Responses

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  1. […] thinking maybe I should look into this line of work. Been needing something since the parking ticket gig fell […]

  2. good one


    29/03/2011 at 16:12

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