Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A Fine Mess.

Here's a story.

A few weeks ago, on my way to the airport I remembered I needed to buy medication for a trip abroad. I drove down Coogee Bay road to my favourite pharmacy. Seeing there was no parking available, I parked my car opposite Bloom’s pharmacy where parking is not allowed and left my emergency lights on, to indicate that I was in the vicinity. A few seconds after I walked into the pharmacy the sales person called me to inform me that a municipality parking warden was outside issuing fines. I ran out to my car and explained to the parking warden that I was driving off. She did not respond and said nothing, even though I smiled to her as I drove off. The entire incident lasted less than a minute. I parked a few metres further down, where a space had become available, and returned to the pharmacy. I was under the impression that this was the end of the tale.

So imagine my surprise upon return to Sydney to find a letter from the State Debt Recovery Office which included a fine for $206. Yes, two hundred and six dollars. The letter states that the car was parked from 11:43 am to 11:45 am (ie for 2 minutes) in a no-parking zone which, of couse, is untrue.

As a responsible resident of Coogee, I immediately wrote to the said office, to write the wrong and set the record straight.  I attached documentary evidence to prove my car could not have been parked for more than 2 minutes in the no parking zone and I did not omit to mention my astonishment at this false declaration and express my general displeasure.

That is when I first heard from one KLD. I am not sure who, or what, KLD is. But clearly KLD thinks of me as a friend. (S)he addresses me by my first name, although I don’t recall a KLD amongst my school chums, colleagues or cycling friends.
The email from KLD contained a considered response from one Gregory Frearson who holds the title of Assistant Director of Operations at the State Debt Recovery Office. 
In contrast to KLD, Gregory doesn’t consider me a close chum. Moreover, he doesn’t consider me at all. So much so, that he doesn't even know my gender. To play it safe, he addresses me as Mr/ Ms. (As a statistician, I can confirm that he has a 50-50 chance of getting it right.) This is nothing less than astonishing, given that Gregory’s office seems to know quite a bit about me already. The harvested data includes my home address, my date of birth, my car’s registration number and my email address. If he had wanted, a simple google search would have clarified whether I stand up or sit down when peeing.
Gregory acknowledges that the fine was issued for parking illegally for a period of 2 minutes. My contention that in fact the infringement period was measured in seconds and that the written declaration is false, appears to interest him as much as my gender does. He ends his letter with some unabashed threats describing what would happen if I did not pay the $206 fine by the due date. (“An enforcement notice will be issued and additional costs will apply”). A word to the wise, as they say, is sufficient. 

A busy day at work.
Wisdom not being my strongest suit, I decided to take my grievance to Randwick council. This is how I met Roman Wereszczynski.
Mr Wereszczynski is the manager of Health, Building and Regulatory Services at Randwick City Council – a rather long title for a job with a long brief. It spans writing and administering planning reports, implementing social policies as well as other sundry duties, such as managing the council's parking officers and rangers.

Still, and despite his busy daily schedule, Mr Wereszczynski was kind enough to read my letter and found the time to respond. His reply was replete with expressions such as “I regret that….I advise that… be advised that…” He is what the Germans would call ein beamter – with a glottal stop. That is, a bureaucrat to his fingernails, with a knack for the legal jargon, who knows the parameters of his job inside out. I shan’t bore my readers with the entire content of our epistolary exchange, but suffice it to say that as a steadfast bureaucrat, he thinks the ranger acted impeccably and carried her duties with consummate skill. According to him, she applied her task with heroic objectivitiy and objective heroism. I disagreed. I even went as far as to explain to the manager of Health, Building and Regulatory Services of Randwick City Council the concept of 'de minim' which is used and applied in philosophy. His reply was swift and concise, as befitting an officious clerk. Mr Wereszczynski is clearly not interested in philosophy.
A few days ago, on a sunny Saturday morning, I was ambling along Coogee Bay road when, mirabile visu, who did I almost bump into? Yes, dear reader, the very ranger around which this story revolves. She was busy plying her trade as the happy booker. I don’t know her by name, so I shall call her Rita (an allusion to the Beatle’s Rita Meter Maid). I captured Rita on my iPhone (see photo) and she didn’t mind at all. She continued chatting away on her own iPhone and I could not help (over) hear her sharing a cake recipe and other household tips with someone who, I suspect, was not Mr. Wereszczynski or a line manager. How I would love a job where I could use my iPhone for idle chit-chat during work hours. And if that's not enough, lucky Rita has a job that she can execute outdoors while walking. (And without wanting to appear chirlish or offensive, I think a she can benefit from a little exercise.) I reminded Rita of our last encounter, brief though it was (less than a minute). In response, she ignored me and walked away, her ear closely pressed to her iPhone, as she continued merrily on her way, issuing parking tickets, marking tyres with her white chalk and chatting away.  

I remember a teacher I once had in primary school. “Every profession is respectable” he used to say.

He was wrong.  

Residents and othe offended parties may like to tell the council what they think:




RnB said...

This is so unlike you........:)

Anonymous said...

Loved it! And every word is true. Will Randwick council bother to comment, do you think? I wouldn't hold my breath.

Anonymous said...

I have also had dealings with these hateful parking rangers. I'd rather be on the dole, receiving benefits for the rest of my life than doing this job. It's worse than prostitution. I have seen some of them hiding and waiting to pounce on cars that are parked in no parking zones. Horrible people doing a horrible job. And if that's not enough the council has blocked some parking spaces in Coogee to make it even harder to find legitimate parking. Boo to this council.

Anonymous said...

I always think it's better for society when the law is obeyed. If you break the law even for 2 mins be a grown up and cop it on the chin. If you hate parking cops don't give them the ammo to shoot you with, drive another 2 blocks and find a legal park. - not from the ranger

Anonymous said...

You can be sure that Randwick council will use your money wisely...NOT.

Anonymous said...

Nice one. Makes ya wonder if the comment from Sept 29 is not from the ranger, its probly from her son or daughter.:) Not from the hate squad.

Anonymous said...

I must admit that 206 buck for 2 minutes is 103 buck for 1. You'd be mathematically better off parking at the opera and taking a taxi to that famous pharmacy at Coogee

Anonymous said...

What kind of person would do this job? Hateful vindictive bastards.

Anonymous said...

shoot them!