“Can I park here?”
A perfectly reasonable question you might say? Of course. So reasonable in fact that I didn’t think this question was destined for me! Yet as I walked across the village car park whilst back home in the ‘shire I hear this question repeated once again.
“Excuse me? Can I park here?”
I glance around. Nope, no one else within ear shot so this disembodied voice must be talking to me. It was way too early in the day to be having auditory hallucinations so I start looking around for where this question is coming from and notice the man in the blue car. He is staring at me intently even though I am wearing my usual neutral slash uninterested slash I haven’t had my morning coffee yet so you can fuck right off expression, yet his questioning persists.
“Well can I?” he says again with added gravitas.
“Er... yes?” I say uncertainly, as it does seem to be a pretty silly conversation to be having... in a car park. Come on, it’s not exactly cryptic.
“Yes I know that,” he says, “but do I have to pay?”
As I have already established, yes this is a car park and, to elucidate further, yes, it is pay and display. Still with me? I know it’s complicated but I’m sure you can keep up.
“Well it is pay and display. Has been since the start of May,” I say before yet again discussing the 10p for four hours parking charge debacle that has been, well, quite possibly the most controversial thing that has happened in Ellesmere in pretty much forever. Or at least since the last murder, sex scandal or the like. I’m kidding. No, that all happens in the next village along. It’s all go in Shropshire, that’s for sure!
“Can you make an exception?” he then asks, looking at me earnestly.
This is getting ridiculous I’m thinking, looking down to check that I haven’t by some miraculous coincidence somehow acquired a parking attendant uniform or even the appearance of someone who gives a shit.
My bemused silence is obviously not what he was hoping for.
“I only need a piss,” he says as if that will somehow validate this whole conversation, “Do you want me to just do it down my leg?”
If we are talking about stuff that I want him to do, urinating in front of me is not exactly high on my list, in fact it doesn’t even feature within the top ten. I could quite easily provide him with a range of ideas of things that I would like him to do, starting with this; leave me alone, you weirdo!
“I’m disabled,” he continues.
Mentally? I want to ask yet think better of it. By this time my patience is wearing thin and I now have only 3 hours and 55 minutes of my own parking time left in which to buy the newspaper so I’m sure you can appreciate the urgency of my predicament.
“It would appear that you have already made the decision that you are not going to pay the 10 pence, so I think that regardless of what I say it will make very little difference to your final action,” I retaliate, flashing a winning smile at the same time to diffuse the mounting venom.
At this, I decide this is a logical point to stop this conversation before it turns into a whole to-do. Judging by the fact that following my last comment he then drove off to park his car, in the car park, so did he.
On my return to the car park a few minutes later, I see the man once again, this time at the ticket machine. He must have heeded my advice, I think and feel a momentary swell of triumph. As I carry on walking I smile at the lady passing by only to hear this from behind me as she reaches the machine a few seconds later:
“Do I have to pay for parking? I’m disabled!”
And so the cycle continues.