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Movies, The Meter Maid, and Me


 Rants and Raves from a Revolutionary: Movies, The Meter Maid, and Me

by Kamuela Vance

     So, I went to this little hole in the wall place that I frequent often. It’s an old school video store, the kind you never see anymore. They’ve got over 8,000 videos in their selection, most of them on VHS some of the movies available aren’t even on DVD yet.

     Not many people know about this place, they even have a small 35 seat movie theatre with reclining seats. It’s got air conditioning and you can bring your own snacks and drinks in. The owner is a cool dude, he digs movies just as much as I do. He’s got all kinds of movies for rent, even flicks dating back to the 40’s and 50’s.

     He’s open 5 days a week and has 4 daily showings of all kinds of flicks, from Independent films to Foreign films, to Classic films and Award winning films, he’s got, and shows them all. Well, a couple of years ago I was in there talking with Jenny, the beautiful girl who clerks in the store, when suddenly in mid conversation she ran for the door. (I didn’t think the conversation was that bad.) I soon realized that she was running to her car to feed the parking meter. The Meter Maid was parked behind her vehicle with his Cushman car still running, he was writing her a parking citation.

     “Please Sir, I put money in,” Jenny said.

     But the Meter Maid would not budge. He stood there in his mirrored sunglasses and said not a word. He was short and skinny, and dressed like a motorcycle cop. He had the helmet and boots, the only thing he was missing was a gun, this cocksucker was instead armed with a ticket book, and he wielded it with supreme power and domination. He did not look at all intimidating. I stood in the doorway of the video store and observed what was taking place in the parking lot. To tell you the truth, the Meter Maid looked like an old alcoholic to me. He looked very official except for the long greyish beard that covered almost all of his face. The yellow tobacco stains stood out against the white areas of his beard and his helmet and glasses only helped to mask his true appearance. I thought to myself, they have some pretty lax rules about appearance at the Meter Maid Academy.

     After he got done writing out the ticket, he calmly walked over to Jenny’s car, lifted up the windshield wiper, placed the ticket on the windshield, and let the wiper snap back into place. He turned around, jumped in his Cushman and off he went. Jenny came back into the store and we talked for a while. I wondered why he had to be such an asshole. I remember a time when cops and public servants were friendly with merchants, they helped patrol the store parking lots and made sure hooligans were not out raising hell, stealing and vandalizing property. The merchants and store owners usually showed their appreciation during the holidays with a case of beer or soda on special occasions. Apparently, not in this day and age though.

But wait, there’s more.

     Last week, I went to the video store to get a movie. I decided on Tigrero, a documentary with Sam Fuller and Jim Jarmusch, two great directors. The film is about a movie that Fuller was supposed to shoot with John Wayne back in the day. Fuller went down to this village next to a river and shot some film. He took a bunch of whiskey and cigars and flew down there to get a screenplay together(kind of African Queenish), anyhow it was a movie that never happened.

     I grabbed Tigrero, and headed to the checkout counter. I put the video on the counter, and Jenny bolted towards the front door, Deja Vu I thought. Jenny ran towards her car with quarters in hand.

     “Please Sir, give me a chance,” Jenny said, as she let the quarters drop into the meter.

     “Too late, I already witnessed the violation, and I had the ticket written up from when I passed through here the last time,” the Meter Maid said, as he placed the ticket under the windshield wiper with a look of pleasure on his gaunt bearded face.

     “You’re an asshole!” Jenny said.

     “Same to you,” Said the Meter Maid.

     “Yeah, you are an asshole!” I thought, you should be brought up on charges of premeditated ticket writing, it sounds like some form of entrapment to me.

     The wannabe cop proceeded to his go kart, got in it and headed to the parking stalls directly opposite Jenny’s car. He then approached two girls who were in their early 20’s. The girls had parked, ran into a restaurant and picked up their take out food order, they were on their way back to the car after being gone for about 2 minutes. By this time, I had walked to my truck and dropped 50 cents into the meter. In capital letters, on the LED display it said…FAILURE.

     I was pissed. I sat there half leaning on the hood of my truck wondering what to do. This fucking machine had just taken my money. If I was to leave my truck parked here, officer Barney Fife would come along and give me a $90 ticket. When in reality, I would have already been paid up. I waited patiently on the side while Buford T. Justice continued to arrogantly flaunt his authority.

     I waited for a few more minutes but the Meter Maid took his time, I decided to move my truck to a stall where the meter worked. I found a stall and put 50 cents in, 40 minutes of parking the meter read.

     The Meter Maid was still hassling the two girls, they even put money in the meter, but the Gestapo agent still would not cut them any slack.

     ” I already witnessed the violation,” He said, in a monotone voice.

     I had enough of this bullshit. If this self righteous asshole was going to play this on principle, I was going to demand equal justice for the return of my 50 cents. I walked up to him and the two girls. He was still busy making them wait, while he took his time filling out the citation.

     “Hey, your meter took my money,” I said.

     “Hold on, I’ll give you the address and you can write to the city and ask for your money,” He said.

     “No, I want my money now, I can’t wait. Something is wrong with your machine and it just robbed me of 50 cents. Instead of being held up at gun point, I’ve been held up by your meter. I require to be paid right now, based on the same principles you employ to issue citations,” I said.

     There was silence for a while. Then he spoke.

     “Well a, well a, you, you got to write to the city and explain your problem to them,” He said.

     “What! See folks, it’s ok for the government to make mistakes, but you better make damn sure you don’t make any mistakes! You’ll be fined, or imprisoned, or both! Fuck the government and these fascist bastards!” I yelled.

     The two girls were awestruck, they never saw a crazy person be so articulate while stating his reasons for anger and temporary psychosis. The Meter Maid quickly filled out the ticket, put it on the girls car, and sped off. I was still pissed and swearing as I walked back into the video store to rent Tigrero.

     “What a fucking asshole,” I said.

     “Yeah, what an asshole,” said Jenny.

     About a minute later, a cop showed up and started to patrol the parking lot. The jackass Meter Maid probably called for back up because we were not respecting his authority, and there was some crazy guy inciting a riot. After a few minutes the cop left and I said goodbye to Jenny and I went home.

     I watched Tigrero and went back to the video store a few days later to return it.

Wait, the third time’s a charm, it ain’t over yet.

     I took the video back to the store and hung out for a bit. I looked through some of the books on the shelf and pulled out Hollywood Babylon. I thumbed through it and looked at some of the pictures. I remember reading this book when I was a kid, interesting stuff.

     “Here comes the asshole,” I heard Jenny say.

     She had a clear view of him from her position at the checkout counter.

     “I’m leaving anyway, goodbye Jenny see you later,” I told her.

     “Goodbye Vance,” Jenny yelled back, as I stepped out the door.

     Out of the corner of my eye I could see the Meter Maid off in the distance, he had just cut the corner and was out of my view. I walked to my truck, unlocked the door and got in. I started the engine, and put my seatbelt on. I threw it in reverse and looked over my right shoulder as I started to reverse out of the stall. Low and behold! It was no other than Mr. Law and order himself. The Meter Maid had made a mad dash for my truck as soon as I started to leave. I had been ambushed, and I was boxed in! The Meter Maid jumped out of his golf cart and marched gallantly with ticket book in hand to issue me a citation. But when he reached my meter, he was surprised to see that I still had 31 minutes remaining from the money I had put in prior to his arrival.

     Without even looking at me, he continued to the cars in the stalls next to me. He started writing out a ticket for two old women with canes who were in their mid 80’s. They had just walked back to their car and were surprised to see the Meter Maid giving them a ticket. They two old women started to talk to the Meter Maid, but I won his attention with my angry banter.

     “Hey you! Move your kart!,” I yelled.

     He slowly turned and told me to wait. I really felt like reversing into that piece of crap Cushman that was parked directly behind me, but I contained myself. I instead decided to berate this cocksucker for what he really was.

     “Either you’re a dumb-ass, or you’re an asshole, cause you’re giving the car next to me a ticket and you’re parked directly behind me and impeding my way. I really think it’s the latter, and that you’re an asshole. You got no courtesy and no class. You could come out here and use your discretion, but you choose to be a prick. Yeah, you’re just a fucking prick, thats what you are, just a fucking asshole prick!” I told him.

     The two old women stood by in shock. The Meter Maid had turned as red as a lobster. He looked like he wanted to crawl under a rock and hide. I had shook him up, called him on his bluff and won. He was frazzled. He stopped writing in his ticket book and started walking to his Cushman kart. I had saved the two old women from getting a ticket!

     As he was walking away, I heard him softly say, “You’re the one swearing, you got no class,” Only this time he was not as arrogant or pompous with his words and actions. I think I struck a nerve.

     “Yeah, and you’re one classy asshole!” I yelled back sarcastically, sure to get the last word in.

The morale of the story…Don’t go out of your way to be an asshole, it’s not worth it.

Peace and love, brothers and sisters. v

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