Scoot Commute

Fighting the parking ticket, or how to charm the muni court judge

Posted in Buddy St. Tropez (Franz Biberkopf), Daily Commute, Parking by sbahn on 2011/09/22
Parking spot on South Main Street, Providence, RI

Parking spot on South Main Street, Providence, RI

I received a notice last week saying that my parking ticket fine was now $90 for parking in a prohibited area. Huh? Prohibited area? Since when is it not legal to park in a parking spot on South Main Street?

The summons indicated that I should be at the Municipal Court in Providence at 8:00 am. Being the case, I left around 7:40 am to make the ride to the Public Safety Complex which should usually take 10 minutes but during school hours can take 25 minutes (seriously, you can’t cross the street when the light is red?). I parked at the Providence Revolving Fund because I knew no one would complain, and well, the building is being repointed so I snuck the scoot under the scaffolding.

Walking into the complex, wearing the AST hi-viz jacket and armoured pants, the security guy looks at me and says “Municipal court?” Sure thing. I hand him my bookbag and as he flips open the top, he chuckles.

“Got the checkbook ready. You’ll need it. Over to the window.”

After being checked in by a miserable guy behind bullet-proof glass (a really, really miserable douche), I walked into the courtroom, grabbed part of  bench, and pulled out the Economist so I didn’t have to listen to the idle banter of my fellow scofflaws.

Around 8:35 am the judge with the goons that run the courtroom walk in. The judge (Joseph something with a lot of vowels as a last name…this is Providence after all) was a cool guy. He waived fines for a lot of folks, requested a translator for two guys accused of public drunkeness, dismissed one guy’s ticket, and knocked down another guy’s ticket (given during a major snowstorm in 2009).

I didn’t even hear my name called because he butchered it so badly. I hurriedly rushed to the mic when I realized he was calling me by last name. (In my defence, he was a marble mouth.)

I plopped the hi-viz AST on the table next to the mic, and stood there, dressed in armoured pants and riding boots> After clarifying how to pronounce my name (and making a joke about how my mom wanted me to suffer forever which got laughs from those still waiting for their turn before the judge), I proceeded to argue how the ticket did not apply to me as I was parked in a legal spot on South Main Street (in Providence, RI). I explained how I ride a scooter and that I always park in the very front or back of a metered spot so that a car could also fit in the spot. I said, “You know the spots on South Main…they’re huge, big enough for giant SUVs. There’s no way I’m going to park the scooter in a way to take an entire spot on such a busy street. I’d come down from the dentist’s office and see my scoot either lying on its side or moved illegally to the sidewalk.” I continued that parking the scooter was always a challenge as I wanted to use allotted spaces rationally, and that I’m cautious to never park in a crosswalk as I’m a pedestrian first, and then a rider.

He looked at me and mumbled something about it being my first violation. I figured he just waived the late fee and that I still had to pay the existing fine. I thanked him and, as I moved over to the woman at the laptop crunching the fines, the clerk (who was the biggest goon I’ve seen in a long time; I’m sure he’s someone’s cousin’s ex-husband) said, “You’re all set.”

Huh? What just happened? That’s right…completely dismissed.

On the one hand, I was happy to not have to pony up 90 bucks to the City (especially since we just got notice of violation for all sorts of crap on the house…really, it makes sense to go after owner-occupiers in one of the highest-foreclosure neighborhoods in this current fiscal climate). On the other hand, wtf? I was parked in a legal spot. No car was parked in the spot. Was it an issue that I didn’t parallel park to the curb? That wasn’t what I was cited for…so I still don’t understand what the issue was with the parking guy (and yes, it’s a guy in that particular neighborhood). Personally, I think he saw “scooter” and “near RISD” and thought the City could get some money.

Whatever. Now I gotta keep my parking nose clean.

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