Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Hug Your Meter Maid

I just saw something happen on La Cienega Blvd that, in LA at least, never happens.

A parking enforcement officer was writing a ticket for a car by an expired meter. The guy came out of the store protesting that he was JUST coming out to leave, and begged to avoid the ticket.

She looked at him, then down at her ticket book, and then smiled. She tore it up and gestured for him to carry on.

The guy was so shocked he dropped his shopping bag, ran over and hugged the lady in the middle of the street. The joy was palpable. Every passer-by who witnessed the exchange of mercy and affection seemed brighter, maybe even happy in that moment. The two parted ways probably never to meet again, but certainly each will approach their day with slightly more enthusiasm for wherever they are headed. Overall, a positive outcome.

Next time I miss the deadline on a meter, I hope I get so lucky. And the next time I am in a position to pass judgment, I will remember how positive the outcome can be by cutting a person some slack.


absmom said...

...words to live by. Some call it Karma- and it's so important in daily life to consider SLACK- because you never know what kind of day someone might be having.

This reminds me very much of a(sad) story a friend related to me many years back.
My friend was in a restaurant where a father with 2 young children were getting glares and mutters from people sitting nearby. The kids were loud and unruly, somewhat whiny and overall poorly behaved...after they left someone commented to the manager who sadly smiled as he apologized, for the children's mother had only recently passed away and the father was doing his best to keep their lives together...I have never forgotten that sad lesson and often consciously think of it when it might be easier to pass judgement. Sorry to bring anyone down but as we deal with an overheated car radiator or a late serviceman or delivery, even a parking ticket- we often lose sight of what is really important in life- and it is so critical to place appropriate value where value is deserved.

Carl Daikeler said...

Thanks for that story Dawn. You never know - ever.

I read a quote once which said "when people say life is hard, I want to ask them, compared to what?" It's always going to have a challenge on some level, the point is to manage my perspective. When I feel like whining about things, I think of Victor Frankl, author of "Man's Search For Meaning." How he managed to keep his perspective of hope and gratitude even while he was a prisoner in the concentration camps is the greatest example of tolerance I have ever read.

Bottom line is, our job is exercise mercy and acceptance - especially when it comes to judging ourselves. That's especially important to people who "fall off the wagon" of a fitness program, and sometimes feel so awful they never give themselve the chance to get back on it. I sometimes think the greatest victories are those where someone has experienced failure, and yet they continue to persevere.

Ok - thanks for indulging me.

Anonymous said...

Carl and Dawn,

Well said! I have finally figured out why I have tried so many programs/fitness routines/gyms, etc, and have never seen the results that I am after! I SABOTAGE MYSELF!! I start to see results and then say, "Hey, I'm doing great! I can eat some chips now! I can eat that ice cream! I can take today off!" Before I know it, my muscle tone that I worked so hard for is gone and my weight is right back to where I started.

I have always been told that I am stocky, big-boned, or fill-in-the-blank. Never told it in a mean way, but told it nonetheless. With P90, I am so determined to make myself the healthiest that I can be! I feel like hugging Tony, you, and Jon, like that guy hugged the meter maid! Like I said, "Please please please don't give up on me! " And the three of you gave me P90. What a push you all have given me to stop judging myself! Now, I give the gift of fitness to myself and my husband and two littlies reap the rewards! Nothing is better than having my husband give me "that look." It's what a wife dreams of!

And Dawn, you say karma, though I'd rather call it compassion. Compassion for myself and for others. Something else that I would like to add, if you'll indulge me: those people in the service industry, they have nametags for a reason. Next time you're at that supermarket, restaurant, dry cleaner, etc., thank that person by name for helping you. It means a lot to them and might even make them smile and realize that what they do is important.

Thanks for reading this and have a blessed Thursday!

Carl Daikeler said...

I love that name tag suggestion -- I never do it because I feel stupid simply reading the person's name tag then acting like I know them. The assumoption is, they are judging you at the ridiculousness of it.

But having worn a name tag at a corporate event, I think you end up forgetting you have it on, and when someone sys your name you think "oh wow - this person is actually acknowledging me. I'll open up".

Good tip!

Mary Cecy said...

There are days that I feel down and so low.. and I think, life can be so much better when I wake up with a smile and there is a sunny day out there. Not every day is a sunny day and we make it a sunny day based on what type of attitude we chose to have. A positive, cheerful, understanding, caring day is all by choices. We choose to be understanding and make everyone's day even if it is with a smile. I understand the tag name. I do it all the time, smile and as they acknowledge my name by using my Sam's Club card, I return the favor and telling them thank you by using their name. I also learn that a smile and telling people when they are doing a great job. It might be a small gesture but it is so important for so many. Many people don't feel appreciated by their boss or co-workers and here a total stranger tells them how wonderful of a job they are doing. I get those days that I can't stop smiling and some days I just want to hide under a rock. I chose to make it better for others because that is what I want for myself. SO Thanks you Sarah, Dawn, Carl, Jon, Steve, Tony, Kathy, Michael, Debbie, Charlene, Customer Office, receptionist, Marketing Dept, Finance Dept , everyone at BB or anywhere else. You make a difference by choosing what your attitude is today. And if you feel it started rotten, write it down and throw it in the waste basket. Keep it there because that is where it belongs.

Love you very much!!

Mary Cecy

Turbo Girl said...

This is my favorite blog entry...so far anyway!

gplu said...

A long time ago, when I got my exercise on the job as a carpenter, I was working
through a general contractors’ labor pool. They found the work, I did it. The nice
part of it was that at the end of the week, you'd get a voucher signed and could take
it to the Labor Pool office and immediately get a check.

My agreement with the Labor Pool was that as a Journeyman level finish carpenter
my rate would be $ 15/ hr or more. I worked for a week on a room addition in the
valley framing out the addition. At the end of the day Friday I had the Contractor I
was working fill out my voucher and discovered that I'd been working all week for
$8.50/ hr. NOT exciting news at the end of a hot sweaty day, finding out your
week's pay is nearly cut in half.

When I found a parking spot near the Labor Pool office on Ventura Blvd. with time
still on the meter, I felt a little better about life. At least stopping to get my check
wasn't going to cost me money. I got out of my car and saw the rust encrusted and
battered mini pickup parked behind me with carpenter's tools in the front seat. Just
another hard working fella here to get his pay I figured. Then I noticed his meter
was red. I don't like getting parking tickets NOR do I like to see others get
them. When I see a red meter on a car, I do my part to keep that from
happening. Without giving it a second thought, I pulled a quarter from my pocket
and slipped it in the meter.

That's when I saw the meter maid get out of her car. Angry. She raised her voice as
she said, "You can't put money in there if that isn't your car." She flipped out her
citation booklet. Took out her pen. I was incensed. After a few moments of rather
heated discussion, I'd left her with only two alternatives. Either leave and forget
about writing that ticket, or call a real cop to help her pull her citation booklet out of
the place I was about ready to put it for her. She decided to leave.

So, all in all I guess it was my lucky day. And I'm glad I was able to "cut some
slack" for a fellow carpenter.

Gerald "Lucky" Plummer