Last night as I went to sleep following my first pint of Guinness since returning to Ireland*, I found the television show Parking Wars. Imagine, if you will, a typical American reality show except the premise here is strictly parking.
“Wow,” I thought. “This show exists.”
The main character that the camera seemed to enjoy following around the most was a stern, bald man who took great pride in following the law to the letter and handing out tickets to passersby whose faces were blurred for the cameras. Inevitably they all had a great reason for violating some parking measure, such as taking a handicapped space.
Elsewhere the show followed a group of concerned citizens lobbying their city council for 30 minutes of free parking. One shop owner claimed people were scared off by having to pay for parking and others simply seemed to think things that convenient them should be free, which is pretty much a universal trait in this world.
A member of the council drew the ire of the shop owner by wondering aloud if someone who can’t operate the credit card machine to pay for parking should really be behind the wheel anyway. To the camera, she was left speechless by the comment. But personally I couldn’t help but agree. Then again, I happen to think most people who are behind the wheel shouldn’t be. With over 30,000 annual traffic fatalities a year in the States, methinks we could use some stricter regulating and incentives to get people out of metal death machines, period.
The measure to allow free 30 minutes of parking ended up failing by a six to five vote. One member of the group pushing for free parking claimed he was just doing his due diligence to keep his community thriving, which apparently mean’s free parking for him. If Hans Zimmer had done the score to this nonsense, you would think these people were standing up for the civil rights issue of their generation.
Elsewhere the camera crew found a vehicle blocking a pedestrian cross walk in a hospital parking lot. When presented with a ticket, the owner of the vehicle said he would refuse to pay it because he needs a car to visit multiple sites and there was no parking for him. Never mind the lack of wheelchair access that he was blocking for presumably his patients.
Back to the bald man of the law, he was confronting a vehicle from Spain, complaining that foreigners think they can get away with not paying parking fines. Sure enough, the Spaniard had developed quite the list of unpaid parking violations. With that, the tow truck was called at which point the blurry-faced man from Spain appeared. After a few moments of playing dumb, he finally paid his 500 pounds in total parking fines to avoid being towed.
Eventually I managed to fall asleep through the excitement, but I couldn’t help but wonder what the American version of the show would be since we steal so many British shows anyway. I imagine it would go something like this.
“I want free parking!”
“Well economically and developmentally speaking, that’s a really bad idea that could contribute to all sorts of environmental, economic and urban design issues that will take decades to repair once we inevitably come to our senses and realize we can’t live in a world designed around cars.”
“Don’t care! Free parking! GIMME!”
End of episode.
*I still couldn’t detect a difference from the American version beyond telling myself maybe it was a little smoother