Racing out the door at 7:35 this morning to get my 11-year-old to school, I see something pink fluttering on my windshield.
“Don’t tell me that’s a ticket,” I growl, teeth clenched. “If that parking lady has given me another ticket...There’s no way.”
I get out my iPhone to snap a few shots, proving I am in front of the sign, not behind it. I’m legally parked--in front of my house, no less. My daughter, hunched over with a 50-pound backpack, motions for me to unlock the door, but I’m clicking away, trying to show all angles of the sign in relation to my car.
“Mommy, please. We’re going to be late.”
I harrumph and get in the car. “I can’t believe this has happened again! Grrrrr. I was parked in front of the sign. Can you believe it!”
Yesterday afternoon when I parked my car on P Street, I made sure to be at least a few inches in front of the EMERGENCY NO PARKING sign. The sign has been there for months, the result of a construction job on the block. Basically there’s a space between two signs where you can’t park between 7am and 7pm. While that’s been inconvenient for neighbors, I don’t begrudge the construction. People need to park somewhere when working on a renovation. And the workers are nice. The few times I have been in their space, they’ve politely knocked on my door and I’ve moved my car immediately.
Last month the same parking enforcer gave me a ticket in the same place. That time my car jutted past the sign by about four inches. I’d meant to contest the $50 ticket, but before I knew it, it had doubled. Now I owe $100. I’m planning on paying that. But then today happened.
“Mommy, calm down. You’re not doing any good talking about it. Can you put on 99.5?”
I clear my throat, “Please?”
She lets out a sigh, like she’s dealing with someone who’s just escaped from a rubber room. And let me tell you, I wouldn’t mind being in one right about now.
“Please could you turn on 99.5, Mommy.”
Sometimes tickets are the price we pay for living here. And I’m no rose when it comes to parking. I’ve racked up my fair share of fairly issued tickets. I also know these government workers are doing their jobs. But couldn’t there be a little more common sense or just plain empathy involved in the process? Seriously, two inches over a line? What about the price we pay when we’ve been unfairly ticketed? Just before Christmas, the same officer (whose name is at the bottom of the citation) ticketed me for not having my Zone 2 sticker adhered to the windshield. I had not scraped off the previous sticker, and adding a new one would have been in my line of vision. Still, the sticker was clearly visible, resting peacefully on my dash board. I tried telling the enforcer that when I saw her pulled over in the the tell-tale white compact DC Parking vehicle.
“Excuse me, are you Officer G_____?” I asked with all the politeness I could muster.
“Well, you just gave me a ticket for not having my parking sticker attached to the windshield.”
She nods as I babble on. “I’m trying to get to a gas station where they have one of those scraper-thingies, but in the meantime, could you please not ticket me? I live right here and I’m legal. I promise.”
A few days later, I got another ticket for the same offense. And in the comment section, she’d typed, “Vehicle unoccupied.” Vehicle not occupied? Of course I wasn’t in the vehicle. I don’t live in my car. That’s what I wrote in a letter sent on December 26, 2011 to the Department of Adjudication when I contested the tickets. I just checked online and see that two $50 tickets have not been dismissed. Which brings me to a grand total of $250 owed to the DC Government. I would contest again, but am now afraid I’ll get booted in the meantime.
Perhaps I’m paranoid, but it seems this particular enforcer is out to get me.
What are the rates for a rubber room these days? I’m sure they are less than all the money I’m forking over to the DC Department of Treasury.