Confessions of a parking ticket fugitive

Parking tickets accumulated on a car windshield. Photo by Emma Wallace // The Concordian

How I was thwarted again by Montreal parking!

My car was stolen. 

I stood in the spot where my car had been, wondering how I would get to the West Island in time for brunch (behold, the most insufferable phrase I’ve ever written).  But wait—what was that just down the street? My car gleamed on the horizon, parked on Saint-Laurent as if it had been dropped down by a spaceship that got bored of the abduction mission. So it had been towed! And charged $186 for the honour—happy Thursday to me.

But why? The signs said I could be in my spot until Friday—or so I thought. New rules had changed the game overnight in the form of bright orange signs that had seemingly spawned out of nowhere and announced, “Gotcha!” Just the latest addition to a saga of suffering. Anyone who has ever tried to park, let alone drive in the city, will tell you that it verges on impossible. And who is to blame for all these problems? My arch nemesis: the Montreal parking police. 

The case of me versus the MPP (an acronym that I just made up) has been an ongoing battle, defined by endless tactics of evasion followed by endless consequences. Many a brain cell has withered away as I have attempted to decipher parking signs in my search for salvation. Can you blame me for always parking where I shouldn’t? The signs are written in an extraterrestrial dialect and resemble a cruel Terms & Conditions Agreement. You may occupy this spot, Earthling, but only on the full moon that lands on a Tuesday, and only if you drive a red Honda. 

I would cruise around for up to an hour sometimes, searching for a spot like a hawk preying on mice. I felt like a fugitive of the law on these mornings spent outrunning the parking police, my Tracy Chapman CD as the soundtrack to my smooth escapades. If you ask me, there’s a certain romantic tension between me and the MPP. An enemies-to-lovers trope, some might say. 

It’s all fun and games until reality bites though. I have been informed by numerous parties that you actually have to pay parking tickets. What do you mean I can’t just use them as lightly-humorous wall decor? My parking ticket art installation is only just getting started. This is almost as shocking as the time my friend hit me with a stern “you know, Emma, you actually do need to pay your taxes.” Just like my days of tax-evading were brought to a bitter end, the law will catch up to me again. 

But let’s have a moment of seriousness—who’s actually in the right? This time I can argue that they did me dirty (my roommate later told me she had seen them putting up the new orange signs at dawn, those sneaks), but all the other times…I’ll admit where I’m wrong. Montreal parking is a royal pain, but maybe parking shouldn’t be easy—that will incentivize fewer people to drive cars. (I really am anti-car, I swear. Up until last year I swore that I would bike everywhere for the rest of my life. Well, I folded. When your family lives in freaking Ste-Agathe, you do what you gotta do.) 

I suppose I really could just ditch the car, though, or learn the language of parking signs. But where’s the fun in that? Maybe I like the thrill of the chase. 

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