Seattle Parking Enforcement
610 3rd Ave
Seattle, WA 98104 206-386-5011
Head of Seattle Parking Enforcement:
You will consider this a formal complaint regarding your parking patrolman wearing badge number "94".
This document includes my opinions. This website includes my opinions, hunches and suspicions.
No one likes a meter maid---you know, those folks who drive around in the little three-wheelers dishing out parking tickets like they were free samples at the grocery store. One reason no one likes them is because, all too often, they seem to thoroughly enjoy their work. They're often mean-boned little people who, if they didn't have a benefit-laden civil service job, would probably be hanging out in country and western bars, starting --and losing-- fights with people bigger than them.
But I digress.
People don't like meter maids also because no one feels he or she really deserves a parking ticket. That's because we're all convinced that we're far more special and precious than we really are.
Few people seem to grasp the concept behind paid parking in urban areas. Many people feel there should be no parking meters at all---just let folks park wherever they want, for as long as they want. The trouble with that is, that's exactly what everyone would do! And when YOU needed to go downtown to shop, there'd be no place to park at all. So parking cops have a purpose in this world. They're a necessary evil. Sure, they don't really have to be such smart-asses, and we wonder why they are, but consider the basic mentality of anyone who would consciously seek out such a job, and you have your answer.
Still, we can put up with them. Usually. Mostly. At least to a degree. The best way to avoid them is to pay the meter when you park. Simple as that.
But there are times.....when theories and technicalities don't apply, and we all must try to just get along.
Consider the time between when a person parks, and then gets out of the car to feed the meter. During that brief period, the person is, by the strictest definition of the rules, parking illegally. Now, no one would ever expect a meter maid to come along and cite you before you could get out of the car to insert your quarter. And although it has probably happened in the history of the world, hardly a meter maid anywhere would attempt such a stunt. After all, the offender is available, right there in the car---he or she could be asked to pay or move. Maybe someone isn't feeling well, and it's going to take them a couple of arthritic minutes to gather themselves and get out of the car. Or maybe they just spilled their coke between their legs while they were driving down the street, and had to duck into a metered spot to daub it up. No one would ticket a person for that. Well, almost no one.
And what about those times when a person has parked, paid the meter, gone to their appointment and come back just in the nick of time as the meter maid was pulling up, getting ready to write a ticket. No meter maid with even a schilling of self respect or honor would go ahead and write a citation---heck, the vehicle would be gone before they finished writing. It's a waste of everyone's time. It would be considered the most ludicrous form of anal-retentive nit-picking, and it would serve only to demonstrate that the city was hiring meter maids who really shouldn't be allowed out in public, at least not with more than one bullet, like Mayberry's Barney Fife---you know, that nervous little social anomaly who would have put the entire world in jail if not for the buffering presence his level-headed boss, Andy Griffith.
But that's in a perfect world. And Seattle ain't a perfect world.
On 10-7-02, I parked my motorcycle between two parking spots at about 5th and Vine. I backed it into the curb, so that it was perpendicular to the sidewalk. There were no other vehicles closer than several spots away---the bike was surrounded by empty parking spaces. And it wasn't in a marked parking spot anyhow. I went in to a deli, bought a carton of chocolate milk, and went outside near my bike to drink it, just as I have done for over seven years, 5 or 6 days per week, with nary a nod from any of the dozens of meter maids who've come and gone through the years. I remained 14 measured feet from the bike, with my helmet held in both hands in front of me, while my chocolate milk carton rested on a slab of concrete. After about twenty seconds I had finished the milk and was fiddling with the strap on my helmet, getting ready to depart.
At precisely this instant I noticed a male meter maid (see photo above) walking down the sidewalk. I had seen the man around in years past. I had watched him write some pretty questionable citations. I'd never had trouble with him myself, but I had witnessed a number of people who had, and I had long ago formed the opinion that the man was little more than a trouble-maker, a problem looking for a place to happen. He stopped in front of a meter which had no vehicles around it, and began looking around as though he was wondering if he could somehow associate my motorcycle with the spot the meter was for. Of course my bike was parked beyond the painted boundaries of that spot, so at first I wasn't concerned. But after a few seconds I began to remember things I'd witnessed this man do in the past. As I walked past the man, on the way to my bike, I laughed and jokingly said, "Oh, you wouldn't be that anal, would you?" I didn't really think he would be so anal as to try to write me a ticket, but then it never hurt to try and keep these guys on your good side. I joke with the post-men when they go by, with the gals in the deli, with the construction workers on the street, and with pretty much anyone who has a witty come-back. But the remark didn't put me on this man's good side. Probably no remark would have. He gave me a nasty look and replied, "Well, I'm going to be that anal now." And he began scribbling in his ticket book in earnest.
By this time I was already seated on the bike, buckling my helmet, and I started the engine. As I pulled away, I heard the man yelling something behind me. Sick to death of this mentality, I just kept going.
Witnesses informed me the following day that the meter-maid had continued to complete the citation after I left, and I have no doubt I'll receive one in the mail. My attorney has already been forewarned.
There can be only one explanation for this man's behavior: He goes out of his way to cite people he doesn't personally like. He may even be technically in the right, by the strictest, most anal-retentive analysis of the law. Or he may not. But the fact remains, his own words demonstrate his intention, which was to write the ticket as punishment for me making a comment he did not personally enjoy.
Does that argument seem thin? Then let's give it even more credibility:
The following day, an attractive woman parked her motorcycle smack on the sidewalk, only a few feet from where I'd been cited the day before. This same meter-maid came by on his route and spotted the heinous crime. Fairness and even-handedness would dictate that he cite the vehicle, just like he presumably cited me. Instead, I'm told, he milled around, and waited for the woman to come out of a nearby store. He didn't cite her; he didn't even smart off to her. He allowed her to park the vehicle out on the street, and then went on his merry way.
Still need more? Not only did this meter-maid not cite the attractive woman for parking on the sidewalk, he didn't cite her when she pushed her motorcycle the wrong way down a one way street, and then parked it facing the wrong way on a one-way street. Not only did he not cite her then, he didn't cite her on subsequent trips through the area! (see photos). Would any reasonable person object to the red scooter (above)? Of course not. But if our heroic meter-maid is going to nit-pick me and others to death, he's going to have to demonstrate that he is at least consistent, and not prone to enforcing the law at his whim, when it suits him, or when he doesn't like someone, granting special privileges to those he likes.
But this must be a fluke, you say. I say not at all.
Across the street from where I was cited the day before, another motorcycle is parked (see photo). It is also parked in a similar manner as mine---out of the formally painted parking slot. That motorcycle isn't there for 90 seconds per day---it's there all day, every day, because the adjacent building is where the owner lives! He and I both park our motorcycles in similar ways, because we've politely and specifically asked other meter maids if we were subject to being cited if we parked that way, and we've repeatedly been told NO! Still we have the fact that this meter maid cited me, but refuses to cite the other bike, day after day after day. Would any reasonable person object to the black motorcycle (below)? Of course not. But if our heroic meter-maid is going to nit-pick me and others to death, he's going to have to demonstrate that he is at least consistent, and not prone to enforcing the law at his whim, when it suits him, or when he doesn't like someone, granting special privileges to those he likes.
It's my opinion that this particular meter-maid is little more than a problem looking for a place to happen. I approached him on 10-8 and asked for his badge number. I told him that many people in the neighborhood were tired of being bullied by him, and that I was going to do my best to stop it. He laughed, and said he wished me luck. As I was departing, he couldn't resist one last smart-ass remark. I didn't even turn around.
It's my opinion that this man possesses exactly the wrong personality type for this job. I believe he is making more enemies in more neighborhoods than any meter-maid I've ever come across. I believe he thinks of Belltown as his private fiefdom, and when he rotates into the area he thoroughly enjoys dishing out his own personal version of pseudo-justice. It's my opinion that this man is a liability to the city, that he has almost certainly been complained about in the past, that he will certainly be complained about in the future, and that someday his counter-productive, anal-retentive attitude will cost the city far more than he has ever collected for it.
Assuming my citation arrives by mail, I'll post it on this page, along with all future developments in this case.
Parking patrol is a necessary function in any city. But the job should not be done by this caliber of human being. In fact, I'm not sure any job should be performed by this type of human being. Well, on second thought, I can think of a few.
We'll be watching this man. After all, his paycheck comes out of our pockets. Whenever we see him ignoring the law, or abusing the law, we'll file a formal complaint and append the incident to this cite. This man's defense of this complaint will be that he was "just doing his job". Okay then---let's make sure he does "do his job", every single hour of every single day.
One last caveat: I have no idea if this man will try to lie his way out of this complaint. He may; he may not. But if he does, he should remember this: A few years ago someone tried to lie about me. I took two polygraphs at my own expense and posted them on the Internet, where they remain today, and where they will remain as long as there is an Internet. It would not be in anyone's best interests to lie about me.
I'm tired of chicken-shit bullies, as we all are---but I'm triply tired of them when they wear a uniform.
(The above complaint elicited no reply or response whatever)
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