Parking tickets stink.
Now before you think this is some sort of rant against Mayor Ralph Becker and his megalomaniacal destruction of Salt Lake City’s roads for bike lanes and other underused service, I want everybody to calm down Clayton Scrivner. This is about me not paying a parking ticket, not Ralph Becker.
I got a notice in the mail four months ago telling me that powerful city attorneys were going to throw me in hoosegow if I didn’t pay up on a stupid parking ticket I vaguely remember getting TWO YEARS AGO. It was outside of the Salt Lake Tribune where I was probably busy improving the world writing about a prep athlete or recording a soon-to-be globally recognized sports podcast.
Either way, I don’t remember getting it.
So, to avoid adding another thick stack of paperwork to my rap sheet, I showed up to court with an alibi, some paperwork and a wheelbarrow full of malarkey. Basically, I was planning on charming my way out of this entire mess—fat chance.
I was the second one in the courtroom. The fellow ahead of me was dressed nicely in his REI uniform and seemed like a nice enough guy. The only thing that was out of sorts was his hair. It was so greasy that he had to either work in the manufacturing of biodiesel or meth. We were instructed that arbitration might be the best route to fight a parking ticket, so we went out into the hallway and to talk to the phalanx of lawyers.
He spoke first to them and I overheard most of what he was laying down. He said he just got out of a nasty divorce, he got evicted, never received any of the paperwork and would like for the fees to be dropped. The lawyer, who looked extremely professional with her sharp suit, new MacBook Pro and fancy pens, explained that they can discount the ticket but he was still going to have to pony up the $100. When he started to complain that there is “absolutely no way on this Earth that I can pay $100,” I knew he didn’t work in biodiesel manufacturing.
I was getting ready to sweet talk my way out of this when I was cut in line by a woman that looked like a 54-year old Russian mail-order bride with a cartoonishly low cut sweater dress with easily 27 piercing on her right ear. She smelt like Marlboros and loose change. Nearly tripping over her boobs and butterfly tattoos, the attorney said to wait her turn because I was next.
She didn’t like this one bit.
She demanded that she go next and I acquiesced. I figure if you are going to yell at a court official without any fear of retribution, I might as well have a front row seat to the eventual pepper-spraying and handcuffing. As she sat down, I was invited into a private room to meet with another arbitrator.
Unlike the professional looking attorney in the hallway, my lawyer looked like the Russian’s sister. Here’s a free piece of advice for any woman thinking of growing her hair into a salt-and-pepper rat’s nest when you’ve reach middle age—don’t. You’ll look like a crazy person lacking the credibility to work as either a crossing guard or man a Yarn Barn register.
Instead of a fancy computer, she was pulling up my file on a Tandy TRS-80. Seriously, her laptop was the size of a manhole cover and as thick as a pastrami sandwich from a Jewish deli. It didn’t just hum when she was entering my information—it churned like an oil derrick. The only thing missing was a drunken mustached man screaming, “I drink your milkshake” in my ear. I tried to make small talk but she was too busy telling me she didn’t know what she was doing.
Bingo! At that moment, I knew I had her—or so I thought.
Through the pillows of smoke pumping out of her antiquated computer, however, she started to piece together this master crime I committed regarding the parking ticket (Yeah, this story is still about a parking ticket—I tend to be longwinded). It seemed with every squawk of her computer, she started uncovering more and more incriminating evidence against.
For starters, apparently I forgot that this parking ticket was on a payment plan. And, as luck would have it, she was the one who set it up AND she remembered me complaining loudly against Mayor Becker when I agreed to the payment plan.
Rats! Foiled! Bitten by my own snake!
Whatever wheelbarrow of charm I rolled into that room, I quietly dumped down the drain. There was no charming my way out of this. Defeated, I looked at her over her monolith of computing power and meekly asked, “So, where do I pay my pound of flesh?”
As I went to the cashier to hand over four months worth of pay, I was reminded of an equally embarrassing moment where I overplayed my hand.
During my bachelor years, I went out to Wendover with a couple of buddies for a Texas hold ‘em tournament. Sitting at the table, I was slugging back the official drinks of casino gambling, Coronas and White Russians, and holding court at the table. I ran my mouth as if my life dependent upon it but I was being pretty funny. In fact, If I wasn’t being absolutely charming, I would have been a complete jackass—and two women at the table definitely agreed.
It was a mother/daughter combination and I was making with the googly eyes with the younger lady. I think the fact that my seduction conversation is distilled into making “googly eyes” speaks volumes about my ability to pick up women. Anyway, because people were getting bumped out of the tournament, the women eventually moved next to me and we got to talking.
The daughter asked me what I did for a living. Instead of telling her the truth that I am a professional bartender, and a damn fine one at that, I told a whopper of a lie. I said I was in cosmetology. This brought the house down. Both of my buddies were laughing their heads off and the women asked exactly what type of cosmetology I did.
Now, in fairness, I was trying to tell them I was a cosmonaut but I was easily on my fifth White Russian and ninth Corona. And is there a bigger professional gap than cosmetologist and cosmonaut? Think of your average esthetician and Yuri Gagarin and consider that the only difference is around three letters.
Anyway, instead of fessing up to the ladies, I told them that I worked in funeral homes, preparing bodies for services. At that moment, both of their jaws hit the floor. Thinking that if there was ever going to be a chance in my life to have a Sportsman Double (ask any fraternity guy what a Sportsman Double—nah, don’t bother, you know exactly what a Sportsman Double is), it was at that moment.
But instead of getting invited up to their hotel room, the mother looked at me and introduced herself. Now, after all these years later, I don’t remember her first name but I have never forgotten her last.
It was Larkin.
As in Larkin Mortuary.
As in the Larkin Mortuary that was literally two blocks away from the bar that I worked at.
Rats! Foiled! Bitten by my own snake!
At that moment, they wanted to know where I trained and if I was looking for work because they were hiring a new whoever-makes-dead-people-look-less-dead-looking for friends and family.
I’d like to blame the White Russians and Coronas but at that moment, I was completely silenced. I didn’t just lose my poker face with the women—I lost it on the table. I pushed all of my chips in on a 2-7 off suit and walked away with my tail between my legs.
Needless to say, I spent the rest of the evening hiding in the penny slots avoiding them at all costs.
So, what did we learn from my adventures?
First, pay your damn parking tickets on time. Second, don’t lie to pretty mother/daughter combinations in Wendover. Third, I could have been a cosmetologist with my obsession with hair grooming.
Ben Raskin is a bartender and writer for a company. Follow him on Twitter @BennyRaskin. Check out the podcast at Trib Sports Radio. And regrettably, both of these stories are true—regrettably.