The man parks his car on the downtown side street, pulls two quarters out of the ashtray where he keeps his change, & locks the door behind him. He steps up the curb & around to the meter only to find that it’s still got twenty-three minutes on it- more than enough time for his minor errands. Someone somewhere is looking out for him. He gives the meter’s twin heads a grateful pat, & notices that the car next to him has run out of time. Smiling, he feeds the quarters into the slot so that the empty meter now reads “30:00” & walks away with the pleasant feeling that usually comes after a good meal with friends.
He gets an iced latte, he picks up the book that he’d ordered a few days ago; he passes by a bar that’s got the Mariners game on, so he watches through the window for a few minutes & shouts when Cano smacks a triple with two men on to give the Mariners the lead.
He heads back to his car &, from about a block off, can see a meter maid standing next to it, tapping furiously on a hand-held computer, & the man breaks into a run. He shouts, “No no no! Wait! I’m coming!” as he runs with the book in one hand & the latte in the other, his shoes slapping the pavement.
The meter maid, who has a mustache that looks like a snow drift that might fall from the ridge of his lip at any moment, explains that he is sorry, but that the car’s information has already been taken down, & that he can’t just undo it now. The man thinks that this cannot be true. That more than likely, this meter maid just has a quota to fill, & that someone somewhere is watching to make absolutely certain that he fills it. The man thinks that it’s all very unfair. That he couldn’t have been more than a few minutes late, & why does this meter maid have to be such a hard on? Such a miser?
The meter maid hands the man a ticket with a twelve dollar fine. The man takes it, his eyebrows furrowed & fusing into one, & watches as the meter maid walks down the sidewalk, patting each meter on its twin head as he passes by.