17 October, 2006

No Matter Where you go in Center City... A $25 fine ain't far behind

So lately I have been riding my bike much more than driving, because it's easier and I don't have to find parking. This slower but more convnient mode of transportation has given me the freedom to observe people more closely, namely the fine officials of the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

Now my friend Drew has a well-documented battle he waged with the PPA a little over a year ago, but my observation is more in passing as I have yet to be antagonized since moving to Center City. There was an incident of about two years ago in which an officer was writing a ticket for my car as I returned to it, only to find that there was a minute left on the meter. He still gave me the ticket. What a bastard, I still detest that guy.

Anyhow, It seems that the job of monitoring the city's parking is pretty much a breeze. You walk around, check for expired meters or illegally parked cars, and write a ticket. Simple. But I suppose it could get boring, so you've got to create your own kind of fun on occasion. Like, say, ticketing a vehicle for a violation when the driver is still in/around the vehicle.

Here's the scene: I was leaving Penn about a week ago, and the PPA tag-team that comes by at 4 every afternoon on Sansom was roving the block as I unlocked my bike. A Penn maintenance van, doors open and piping spilling out the side door, was parked directly in front of the door to the Penn Law building. A maintenance man was on the sidewalk with a manhole cover open, threading pipe through the open hole. He was clearly using the van for work. But wait, his van was parked in the no parking zone. The two officers not only avoided talking to the guy, but they went as far as to walk into the street to ticket the van. Where else was the guy supposed to park it? He was clearly using the vehicle, and if they thought his parking locale warranted a ticket, maybe they could have approached him about it since he was 5 feet away. Seriously though, the walking to the other side of the van out of sight was the best.

Yesterday, as I was riding around the city doing not much really, I found myself behind a PPA patrol car. I tailed the car, waiting for the hilarity to begin, and boy did it. After following the car for three blocks, I had to slam on the brakes in response to a sudden direction change. The PPA car, operated by another surely stellar duo, swerved into a bus-only zone and parked. No hazards. Across the street, in a loading only zone, was a bright red Nissan, trunk open, hazards blinking. The door to the apartment a few houses up the block was ajar, and a couple exited, heading toward the Nissan. They removed a few small boxes from the trunk, and entered the apartment again, leaving the trunk ajar and the hazards on.

It was at this point that a PPA officer exited from the passenger side of the vehicle, placed a ticket under the windshield wiper of the Nissan, and returned to the car. The team drove off. I waited, and sure enough, less than a minute later, the same couple exited the apartment again and found the ticket.

The PPA car had parked in a no parking zone to ticket a car, which was clearly in active use, parked in a loading zone. They even had the gall to wait until the couple went inside, instead of handing them the ticket personally. What a faceless grou, I tell you.

This makes me glad I ride my bike everywhere, even in the rain. I may get a little wet, and it may take a little longer but not only do I get to observe the PPA at their work, but I also free myself from the worry of their sneaky goings-on.

Also last week I observed, as I was driving on 20th on my way to Kelly Dr., a PPA agent, operating along (24 style). I was stopped at a light, and in my rearview mirror I caught his suspicious movement. He looked left. He looked right. He looked down, at the sewer grate below him. He deposited his Pepsi can into the grate. He sauntered back onto the sidewalk, content that nobody had seen his littering. Oh, I saw you buddy. I saw it all...

Two all-freshman dorm buildings at NYU created a giant game of Connect Four using their windows and red/black paper. Kind of like the chess game in Harry Potter, but more inocuous.

So I've been reading a lot from Ubersite, it's my favorite pastime as of late. It's basically a site to submit any kind of writing, real, false, or funny. The essays Tainted Love: My Date with a Vegetarian and Fat People Don't Like Being Called 'Waddles' are two of my particular favorites. Following, though, is an excerpt from this essay:

That's why I should not have been surprised when I came bouncing in one afternoon to ask him if I could get my ear pierced. Hell, everyone else was doing it, right? Why couldn't I? My father had been reclining and reading the paper, and I noticed an amused look in his eye as he put the paper down.
"Well, Tony," he said, "I'll ask you two questions. If you answer yes to either one, you can have an earring."
Sweet! I was so getting an earring that afternoon!
"Are you a faggot?" he asked. I was stunned into silence.
"NO!" I finally got out.
"Are you a pirate?"
"Then you don't need one." And with that he went back to his paper, leaving me without so much as a scintilla of an argument to stand on.

God, I so cannot wait to do that to my kids.
So good.

Business cards and snarky, self-indulgent humor. Worth a minute of time.

This photographer named James Abbott worked on several sets of the Ben Franklin Bridge over many years, and takes some pretty awesome pictures. Some of his stuff can be seen here. I interviewed him as part of a really small online piece for the CP.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Working in Baltimore City years ago (more years than I want to remember) I used to carry a tire stem tool in my pocket when. So when I went out for lunch and happened to see one of the parking police stop their vehicle to get out and write a ticket for some unfortunate soul, if I got the chance, I would sneak around the back of the vehicle and turn the stem on the tire valve a little. Just enough to slllloooowwwlly let the air out. That way, they would be far away from the location where the diturbance took place. I really didn't have to see the flat tire or the look on the parking-gestapo-quasi-police persons face. It just gave me pleasure that I struck one for the little guy. I got caught once doing it but most of those people are so rotund that they could not keep up with me. Besides they had to make sure that they didn't leave their vehicle because it was parked illegally anyway.

1:21 PM, October 26, 2006  

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