By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
Downtown Denver, midday, summer. Car pulls into metered parking space outside Paris on the Platte, known purveyor of caffeinated beverages; two dashing young men -- one a writer, one a law student -- frantically search pockets and car for coins, find none. Law student agrees to purchase two cups of coffee and return with change, after which the duo will enjoy coffee on the patio, like gentlemen. Writer contemplates life while listening to Pavement in driver's seat, eventually decides to exit vehicle and stand in doorway of coffee shop, keeping an eye on car while simultaneously scanning venue for freaky, tattooed bitches. Writer notices law student outfitting own cup of coffee with packets of sugar and cream, ignoring writer's drink all together. Writer enters shop, casts surly glance at law student, adds cream and sugar to his own coffee and mutters about how law student will inevitably wind up a corporate whore. "What?" law student says. "Nothing," writer responds. Law student hands writer change. Both exit. Both notice toy-like jeep with flashers parked alongside ride. Lightbulb goes off in writer's head as he realizes meter maid is writing a ticket. Writer sprints to vehicle. Witnessing his gazelle-like agility, bystanders are heard to remark that writer must have been "some athlete" back in the day.WRITER: Hey, hold on a sec! I was just inside getting change!
METER MAID: Sorry, pal, once I write the ticket, it's permanent.
WRITER [in disbelief, as in, "Did this guy really just call me 'pal'?"] Man, I just ran in for one second to get change; I was coming right back.
METER MAID [showing writer ticket, rudely]: It's already written.
WRITER: I hear you, it's just…
METER MAID: You live in a city; you should keep change around for parking at meters.
WRITER [in disbelief, as in, "Did this guy really just tell me where I live?"]: I do keep change for meters, but because I live in a city and park at meters all the time, I ran out.
METER MAID: Well, too bad. Ticket's written. Look, pal (again with the pal!), I sympathize with…
WRITER: Oh, yeah, you seem incredibly sympathetic.
METER MAID [stunned at writer's audacity]: You know what, buddy? I was going to rip up your ticket, but because of your attitude, not a chance now.
Meter maid starts to drive off.
WRITER [yelling]: You're a very powerful man!
Meter maid stops vehicle, looks back at writer. Writer raises fist to the sky, in radical fashion. Meter maid drives off. Law student snickers.
If this anecdote resonates up in your oblongata, it's not because it's torn from the pages of some epic drama -- although a strikingly similar scene does appear in the unabridged version of Romeo and Juliet, with a salty Capulet as the bitch-ass, ho-ass, trick-ass meter maid -- but because this type of incident occurs every day in Denver. And the writer in this storied tale? Your very own What's So Funny.
Man, were we livid. Livid and humiliated and a little hungry. Normally in such situations, What's So Funny would sprint back to our cubicle and fire off a tirade about how meter maids are to law enforcement what dental hygienists are to medicine. How meter maids probably wear women's underwear and smell like urinal cakes and how their mothers don't love them, never did, and the meter maids don't even know who their real fathers are. But we're trying to move beyond all that. So we did a little bit of what the newsies like to call "journalism."
"The number-one duty of Vehicle Control Agents is as ambassadors to the city," comments Anderson Moore, director of Parking Management, who also points out that "meter maid" is no longer the preferred tag. "VCAs should provide information on safety issues and concerns, as well as ensure a safe environment for moving traffic through the city." Like blocking-a-lane-of-traffic-while-getting-lippy-with-an-innocent-motorist-type safe environment? Didn't think so. And as far as the VCA's claim that he was poised to rip up Funny's ticket, well, that's just balderdash. If a VCA feels that a mistake has been made, Moore says, he must consult with his supervisor, who will turn the case over to a manager of enforcement for further review. Sympathize, our foot!
So what should we have done? According to Moore, either sought out free on-street parking or invested in a pre-paid CashKey, which serves as the gold ticket to the meter's chocolate factory, opening up a whole new world of opportunity. And if we're not satisfied with those solutions, we can take our case to the court magistrate and give him our two cents (and then our twenty bucks). But What's So Funny knows how so-called democracy works these days. It's all about connections, who you know. Hell, we've seen how they hand out those CashKeys for free to bigwigs around the city. As the writer of a weekly column, we would like to point out that there are very few wigs bigger than ours. So it's come to this: Cough up a CashKey, City of Denver. Send it to What's So Funny, in care of Westword. Otherwise, we'll be forced to see you in court. And we'll be bringing our law-student friend with us.