Thursday, March 26, 2009

Law & Order: PTU

{Deep throaty voice of Narrator}

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, the battle on parking violators is enforced by a super ninja troop known as the Parking Ticket Unit. This is just one of their many, many, many stories.

{Cue the widely recognized double note}

Boom -- Boom

{As the scene opens we see Jenn & Matt getting out of their vehicle on Mass Ave in Cambridge one sunny Saturday afternoon. It is winter, let’s just say early February. They have parked almost directly in front of the hardware store which they intend on patronizing momentarily. Jenn walks a few cars down the block to locate a path leading up onto the sidewalk; Matt traverses the two foot high snow mound on the side of the road and goes directly to the meter to insert the four quarters which will buy them an hour in the store.

The couple enters the store and improvisational conversation with the clerk ensues regarding the most efficient and financially viable solution for hinges for their newly constructed entertainment center doors. They acquire the items and make their way back to their vehicle only to find a ticket on the windshield.}

Jenn: What the fuck?

Matt: Oh crap, here we go.

Jenn: Tell me we ran out of time?? Just try to! I know we put in enough money and this ticket was left almost ten minutes ago. Freaking give me a break!

{Matt exits vehicle to look at meter as Jenn continues to scream obscenities inside the car}

Matt: Yeah there’s three minutes left.

{Jenn takes the camera she always carries out of her purse and hands it to Matt}

Jenn: Here, take a freaking picture. I am so fighting this. Like it’s my problem the freaking Meter Maid couldn’t climb over the snow bank to see there was still time left. Whatever…..

{The following Monday morning we see Jenn completing the form on the City of Cambridge website to fight her ticket.

Cut scene to three weeks later at the mailbox when Jenn retrieves the notice indicating that although they have received her reasons they are continuing to enforce said ticket.}

Jenn: Improvisational cursing for upwards of five minutes. Light under breath mumbling having something to do with “But I FED the meter!”

{A montage of images ensue (to speed through time), while “Everybody Hurts” by REM plays in the background -- we see Jenn sign the notice to request a hearing, receipt of the Hearing date notification, the printing of proof photographs, selection of her most responsible looking outfit, ironing of her shirt on the morning of the hearing and placing enough quarters in her pocket to feed the meter for three hours as she slips on her sun glasses and walks out the door}

Jenn: I don’t want to do this. Is it too late to just pay the twenty five dollars?

Matt: Yeah.

Jenn: It hit me in the shower this morning, although I have bailed friends out of jail on numerous occasions, I have never once stepped foot inside an actual courtroom. What if it is nothing like they make you believe it is? Am I going to have to talk to a judge way up on some freakishly high throne? What if it’s a dude and I call him Sir instead of Your Honor? Can they just throw me in jail for that? I’m very nervous. Why shouldn’t I change my mind and just pay the stupid money to not go through all this nerve wracking stress?

Matt: {Attempting to hide his amusement at Jenn’s recoculous rant but only moderately succeeding} Because if this was me you would never let me get away with not fighting it.

Jenn: {An audible sigh can be heard} You’re right.

{The camera cuts to the Cambridge City Hall Annex building. The scene is filmed from way low to the ground looking up the side of the red brick structure giving the appearance of a giant, imposing building. As the camera pans out we see it is only two stories and looks like nothing more than an old time school house.

The couple enters the building; Jenn continues to ramble on in a nervous blubbering rant about filling the meter outside this building. Matt remains almost uncharacteristically quiet. They approach the man behind the numbered windows.}

Jenn: {In a tone of a question as if it is still unbelievable to imagine what is about to occur} I have a hearing scheduled.
Man: Just stand over by that water fountain and she will come out and get you.

{Jenn is called to enter the Hearing Office and as she enters we see it is nothing more than a booth with a door; the space is smaller than a cubicle. One seat is provided and we are looking at the back of a monitor but there is nothing else in the space other than stark white walls, a counter top with an embedded pen and the PTU Official}

PTU: Please sign your name on this sheet. {Passes sheet} Now what is the reason you are fighting this ticket?

Jenn: Well I put money in the meter but got a ticket anyway. Here are the pictures showing I still had three minutes left.

PTU: Was there any discrepancy between the meter you put money in and the meter on the ticket?

Jenn: No, not that I was aware of.

PTU: Is this your car in the picture.

Jenn: Yup, that’s me.

PTU: OK see it is supposed to line up with your front bumper, not the rear bumper because it’s a single meter. See here in the system {spins the monitor outward} the Ticketing Official made a note that money was put into the meter at the same time the ticket was being issued. I think you were putting money into the meter for the person behind you and someone came and parked in front of you then made the same mistake while she was ticketing you.

Jenn: {A genuine look of shock passes across her face and we see her shoulders sag ever so slightly as she realizes she will be giving up twenty five dollars in a matter of minutes} Oh.

PTU: Just so you know for the future really. Don’t worry, I’ll dismiss this one, you’re all set.

Jenn: {contemplating requesting a hug} Oh, my, oh really? Thank you so very much!

PTU: No problem, have a nice day.

Jenn: {still in shock} Absolutely, you too. Thank you again!

PTU: {sensing there might be a request for a hug} Can you tell the next person to come in here now?

{Cut to a close up shot of Jenn and Matt bursting through the revolving door; they have huge smiles. The camera pans out from an across the street view and we see leaping dancers, ribbons wildly being shaken in the sunshine, ballerinas spinning, a big huge rainbow, the words “JOY” and “HAPPINESS” being painted on a huge canvas in the background of puppies, laughing babies and the sounds of “Come On, Get Happy” by The Partridge Family plays in the background.

The final shot is Jenn looking at the car parked right out front with thirty five minutes left on the meter and turning to give a thumbs up to Matt.}


Bridgete said...

Haha. I love the way you tell the story, and I'm glad the ticket was dismissed.

Karen said...

Absolutely fabulous writing! Loved reading this :))

Suldog said...

Excellent story! I love a happy ending!

Chris said...

Very clever re-telling, Jenn. This is why I miss the east coast. The SoCal bureaucracy would NEVER have been so accomodating.

pastrywitch said...

I too know the chagrin of feeding the wrong meter, but there was no fighting the ticket because it was clearly my bad. Very funny writing. We have parking ninjas on the street where our shop is; one of them tried to write my boss a ticket for being in the loading zone - while my boss was unloading product from the car and taking it into the shop. Notice I used the word "tried"....

ginger said...

holy crap, you crack me up!!! great story, i love the way you told this!

i would've asked for a hug. :)

spottedwolf said...

"Everybody hurts"....."blubbering rant".........."ladies dancing"............"partridge family" ???????

LMFAO...........c'mere Suz ya gotta see this bit o' honesty....

spottedwolf said...

now we're both chortling like two orangutans...........have you and Matt seen "Marley and Me"? If not............go see it or rent it or whatever.....

Rosebud Collection said...

Good story and so happy it turned out good..I am glad you went to court..I had to go for a tenant, small claims..I did have to talk to the judge..first, I was nervous, then I though the heck with everyone..gave my case and won..but I don't ever want to do this again.

Matt S said...

Ha! I was there, and this still funnier than the real deal! (As I'm humming the A-Team theme song out loud)

Maggie May said...

ha!! good dimissal!

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Yup, happy endings totally rule :) Especially with a Partridge Family interlude haha. Marley & Me, going into the Netflix queue now thanks!

I love to hear stories of NOT getting tickets, getting out of tickets or generally just fighting "the Man" and winning :)

Julie said...

Great writing, Jenn! You really had me emotionally involved. ;) Glad it all worked out in the end, Partridge Family and all!

(also for the record, I just got the email of this post about 10 minutes ago. Go figure.)

Judi FitzPatrick said...

Very, very funny telling! You do have the gift of storytelling.
Love, Mum

TheresaJ said...

Congrats on the winning outcome! Loved reading this. You completely captured my attention and I couldn't wait to get to the end.

I once fought a ticket -- a moving violation. I had to show up in a court house, before a judge behind his high bench, in front of about 100 people, also waiting for their cases to be heard. When the judge arrived in the AM, he announced that traffic court was severely overcrowded and that he was actually a criminal court judge, but would helping out in traffic court for the day. I was pretty terrified and intimidated to begin with, but now could hardly contain myself. Hours went by and my stomach churned frantically. My case didn't come up until after lunch and I watched and waited through case and after case while he found every single one of them guilty or let them plead to lesser charges. At that point, I had no hope and was so terrified, I can't even describe it. I really thought I would faint when my name was called. When I finally got up, I pled not guilty, handed over my photos, and told my story. When I finished, he told me to sit on a bench on the side of the courtroom (which he had not instructed anyone else to do), not far from his bench, and that the bailif would attend to me. I had no idea why and was terrified. About ten minutes later, the bailif approached me and said to follow him. Once behind the courtroom door, with a big and genuine smile, he told me the judge dismissed my case. I was so relieved and elated, all at the same time. Best of all though, I felt so empowered. I had faced a fear, stood up for myself, and had won. That feeling has never left me.

Dave King said...

A very impressive piece of writing. I was completely captivated all the way through.

TheresaJ said...

Congrats on your feature article over at It's a great feature!

Chris Stone said...

lol. great story! glad you got the ticket dismissed!

Rosebud Collection said...

Just checking in..didn't blog all week..Now Jenn, it is rain..and the cellar is being pumped out..
This is the "never ending story"..
Happy Sunday..