by The Lotus Queen

My newest field exercise in the observation of human stupidity (AKA: job) has me working in a parking booth on campus. I don’t ask a lot from people during the course of my shift but yet somehow, at the end of the day, I am left with the depressing feeling that my expectations of reasonable human behaviour are too high.

There are several classes of psychological/behavioural defects present on a regular basis at the parkade, all of which beg the question: how the fuck did you pass your driver’s test? Or alternately, why are you out in public by yourself, where is your chaperone?

1. Red/Green Colour Differentiation.
A seemingly important skill to have when driving but there is an astonishing number of people that end up in the parkade who do not have this. Our parking booths come equipped with large, traffic-light sized…uh… traffic lights that can be switched to green or red, depending on whether the booth is open or closed.

Our society dictates that green symbolizes things like: go, OK, all good, yes etc. Red means: stop, danger, no, do not, bad etc. This is pretty much universal. There are at least 2 or 3 people a shift who cannot figure this out. They pull into a booth with the red light on and expect to be able to pay. Upon being told that the booth is closed they often get indignant and insist that I should take their money anyway. In other words, their ignorance should inconvenience me, not them. I point out that the light in the booth was red, thus indicating before hand that it was closed. I get the following responses:

Denial: “But it was green a second ago”. (No it wasn’t.)
Helplessness: “Well what am I supposed to do?” (Back the fuck up!)
Gross Ignorance: “Well I didn’t know.” (So do you run red lights on the road too because you didn’t know?)
Defensiveness: “But you just let that other car through!” (They let themselves through as they have a pass-card.)

Again, I have to wonder, are there that many people out there that are not aware of what red means? Are these same people out causing mayhem and carnage on the streets by running red lights?

2. Pathetic Helplessness

There are a few people each shift who come into the closed lane, and when I tell them I am closed, cashed out, done etc, and that they must back up and go to the next lane, they start to whine and whimper that they “can’t” possibly do this…because there are cars behind them.

Oh no! How do they cope? If I wasn’t in the booth to spoon-feed them the information and they had to (god forbid) figure out the booth is closed on their own, would they still not be able to back up?

Is Hello Kitty stuck in between the tires, preventing them from turning backwards? Do they not actually know how to drive? Do they think that other drivers behind them are as dumb as they are and will not be able to figure out that reverse lights mean “backing the fuck up, so move it!?”

Do they think that by being helpless fools they will eliminate the need to do any thinking at all and be able to devote more brain cells to their cellular phones? Do they think they will get where they are going faster by going through a closed lane anyway? I have no fucking clue. All I know is that I chuckle with glee when I see them annoyed. And more glee when I see the drivers behind them even more annoyed.

3. Cellphone Dependency and Abuse

This is a dangerous and growing problem. I never claimed to have done well in driving lessons (my teacher kept distracting me with comments such as “STAY IN YOUR OWN LANE!!!!) but I did know that the proper driving position was NOT with one shoulder awkwardly hunched up trying to support a cellphone against my ear.

4. Stupid Things in the Car (Besides the Driver)

  • a pair of surgical gloves that had been removed and left above the back seat of this guy’s car. They did not appear dirty but had been worn. I finally asked the guy what the deal was after seeing them there on 3 or 4 separate occasions. He said they “might have” belonged to his sister, he really had no idea. Riiiigggghhht.
  • Huge armies of battle-bots, Digimon, and the heads of Hello Kitty and all her friends impaled on springs, stuck to the front dashboard. Not to mention piles of beanie-babies, puppies with nodding heads, and other miscellaneous stuffed toys in the back. Jesus, it’s as if Toys R Us puked inside the car!
  • This one chick has her entire car full of Winnie the Pooh: mobiles, figurines of all sizes, steering wheel cover, decals, stuffed dolls, seat-belt bands, you name it. There is something creepy when a university student feels the need to make her car into a mobile shrine to Winnie the Pooh.
  • The same basket of laundry in the back seat since I first started working there.
  • This plastic figurine of the Fantasia Mickey Mouse who I could have sworn was giving the finger.
  • A large Keropi Doll strapped into the back seat.
  • Those stupid seat belt bands that Velcro around the seatbelt. They come in cute matching pairs and often have things like “hello Kitty”, powered by Honda, princess etc embroidered on them. I had never seen these things until I started working in the parkade. I think these people really want us to think that their honda civic is really a high-performance racing car. The spoiler, V-Tec racing decal, and hello kitty on the dashboard really go far to enhance that impression. If only the bus was that cool.
  • A fuschia bunny-type creature with “I love you” on its stomach, hanging from the back window. This car was driven by a man. Either he is some kind of colour-blind girlie-man or he is whipped by the cheesiest girlfriend ever. Both are bad.
  • Dreamcatchers…now I don’t actually think they are stupid but one driver commented to me about all these people who had them in their cars…”You know people don’t realize those dreamcatchers only work when you are asleep!” Talk about a telling metaphor for society.

5. Classical Conditioning

When people drive into the parkade and want to get a ticket, they press this huge green button and a ticket comes out. Often times they press the intercom button too. I can’t figure this out. If nothing is wrong, a ticket comes out regardless.

All this does is classically condition me to become potentially homicidal. Of course the intercom is in my booth. Some losers even keep pressing it so I can’t even get through to tell them to knock it off. Perhaps they think they are administering an electrical shock to me. The annoying sound at unexpected times might as well be.

One time, this moronic girl wouldn’t stop buzzing me: she couldn’t get a ticket. It was because the lot was full. But she “had an exam in 10 minutes”, so couldn’t I let her in? No. She buzzes back 20 minutes later and says “Look, I am really late, couldn’t you just pretend it isn’t full and let me in?” I could have done that. I could also have pretended she wasn’t such an idiot. But it wouldn’t really have helped, now would it? Thank god for the parkade being controlled by a computer in head office!

On the subject of idiots, I observed this chick slowly driving past the entrance of the parkade, where there was a lineup of people entering. She was in their way. She sought refuge in the exit lane. She got out of her car and came over to my booth and asked me “So is this where I park?” Yes it is the parkade…”Ok ,well how do I get in?” For the love of god!! I was stunned. Turn in your drivers’ license, bitch! While you are at it, quit making the female gender look so bad!

6. The Funniest Thing Ever…

Was when during the transit strike we were giving people a dollar off parking if they had 3 or more people in the car to make a car-pool. These people drive up and there are only 2 of them. I charge them full price. They protest, saying, totally deadpan, that they want the carpool rate because they have 3 people. I did a double take in the back seat: they had constructed this dummy and strapped him into the back. I was like “umm the dummy doesn’t count!” They said “Oh come on, points for creativity, it IS the art parkade…” By then I just started laughing and gave them the deal.


  1. Pull up so far from the booth that neither of our arms can reach.
  2. Pull up right beside me so that your arm is halfway into my booth.
  3. Bump into my booth because you can’t actually control your overly large SUV/truck/van/Landrover etc.
  4. Drive through the yellow arm because you smoked/did not smoke your morning crack.
  5. Think of coming here without cash.
  6. Give me a baggie full of change.
  7. Pay a $1.95 fare with a 100$ bill first thing in the morning. All I can say is I wish I had your job if hundreds are the smallest you’ve got.
  8. Give me more than 5 or 10 pennies. If you are giving me 50 you’d better fucking roll them yourself.
  9. Interrupt my greeting to demand a receipt.
  10. Mumble or not mention the receipt and then get mad when I don’t give you one.
  11. Act offended when I ask you if you would like a receipt.
  12. Ask me to give you receipts you forgot to ask for last week when you came through another booth at a time I wasn’t working at.
  13. Make stupid jokes.
  14. Try to hand me change with a cigarette in the same hand.
  15. Give me hair, lint, goo, fuzz etc with your ticket/money. My DNA/ Forensic Evidence Bank is big enough without your contribution, thanks.
  16. Try to pick me up.
  17. Ask if parking is free (jokingly or not) because you’ve come here every day for months
  18. You feel that you pay enough already
  19. You are a student here after all
  20. You lost your ticket
  21. You dropped your change
  22. You didn’t have enough money to start with
  23. My till tape gets jammed
  24. You drove into a card-holders only lane and now there is a line-up behind you and the idea of backing up and going to a new lane is too scary for you
  25. You are a professor here
  26. The other guy always gives it to you
  27. You already paid the first time you came in
  28. I am beautiful
  29. You’re a nice guy
  30. It’s Friday
  31. There is a transit strike
  32. The gates were open when you came in
  33. You didn’t get a ticket because the machine was broken
  34. You are a senior citizen
  35. Your son (you know how teenagers are) just stole your last 5$ out of your purse.

Except for the idiots, this job is ok. I basically get paid to sit on my ass. No complaints (although I can always find some). If it weren’t for the blatant stupidity, I’d have no comic fodder. No stories to tell at parties to impress guys. Nothing to laugh at.

But I have to sum everything up by the title of this rant: IF YOU CAN’T PARK, GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE CAR!

  • by The Lotus Queen
  • Published on May 1st, 2001

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