Yesterday, as he has many times before, The Parking Prankster had a long chat with Geoffrey, the Parking Warden in his local car park. Geoffrey is a sweet old guy; I guess he is retired and earning some extra pin money managing car parks, but I never asked. He loves to chat on any subject, although parking is an obvious one for us both to settle on. He looks after several car parks, taking an hour to go round each one, carefully marking down number plates in pencil in his neatly-lined notebook.
My guess is that he knows the number plate of each of his regulars. "That red one," he points out to me as we speak, "she was a right terror! Kept filling in the wrong number when she paid by Ringo (telephone). I had to leave four notes under her wiper before she learned how to use it properly."
Notes, not tickets. You see Geoffrey isn't one of those parking wardens trying to exploit his customers. He cares about them and wants them back. He's not interested in ticketing for minor transgressions. If someone parks in his disabled bays who isn't disabled, he would rather have a quiet word and move them on, than hide in his office and leap out to ticket them as soon as they leave the car park. If a car doesn't have a ticket, he always leaves plenty of time in case the motorist is off to the train station. Although you are meant to buy your ticket straight away, even if you use Ringo, Geoffrey realises that if people are hurrying to catch a train they may need some time before they settle down to buy their ticket.
If only every warden was like Geoffrey. Then the motorist wouldn't have a problem with the parking industry.
I fear for Geoffrey - not his real name for obvious reasons. One day I expect to see a new guy there, officiously ticketing everything in sight, and explaining Geoffrey had to be got rid of for "not meeting targets."
"He was a harmless old buffer, but didn't really understand the parking industry. Never mind, I'm in charge now. If I can get out 10 tickets a day I'll soon make reserve-lieutenant-colonel parking warden status."
Even worse, perhaps he will be replaced by ANPR. That seems to be the way the industry is going.
The Parking Prankster