Here’s a little Freethunk fluff on Parking Wars, the A&E reality TV series. Whenever I get sick I eat junk food and watch junk TV and this time I found Parking Wars on Netflix and watched the entire first season as snot dribbled out my nose. I’m always fascinated by other people’s jobs, especially the crappy ones. While I’m sure the benefits and pay are good, working for the parking authority is filled with abuse. I would say the abuse is ill-aimed and that the people who should get an earful are the ones who have the power to change how the streets are run. Simply put, too many cars and too few spaces creates high demand and the city knows how to make money off of it instead of creating solutions.
Two of the featured parking authority officers for Philadelphia are Garfield and Sherry. They are booters. You get 3 tickets and you’re likely to find an ugly, yellow contraption on your wheel. Garfield, per the profile notes displayed during the show, is an avowed agnostic who loves to listen to Bad Religion. His partner, on the other hand, is a Christian married to a deacon. So what you have is an interfaith team on the streets nailing violators. It was somewhat humorous to see bumperstickers praising Jesus getting the boot or a brother’s sister being booted despite the fact she was a missionary (I guess missionaries don’t pay tickets when they know they may be leaving for another country).
Most of the people being booted, while upset, treat Garfield and Sherry much better than the officers who issue the original parking tickets. The booting pair does genuinely take the time to help the people being booted and are not unsympathetic–yet it is their job, as unpleasant as it may be, and they will not run away from an argument.
It’s hard to take sides in this show, but Garfield and Sherry are my favorite Philly Parking Authorities. Sometimes it is B.S. to get a ticket, but often it is so obvious that a person is full of B.S. when they’re trying to get out of a ticket. As long as it ain’t you it’s hard not to laugh.
SIDENOTE: The freedom given to A&E to profile all of the Parking Authorities is interesting. Garfield lets us know he’s an avowed agnostic while a tow truck driver is seen hitting on women shamelessly and another parking authority plays a pretend violin at whining victims–do the supervisors watch this show and say, “Whoa! We gotta uphold a professional reputation here.” But without these kinds of personality traits that might not openly be allowed at other jobs, I don’t think these guys could survive their daily grind. The reality show has probably been good for Parking Authorities everywhere because even if you don’t like ticketing, you can definitely see the people who deserve it (handicapped spaces, double parking) and what jerks they can be to these government employees. I’m not saying I might not argue a ticket but I’m going to be civil about it.