Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Compassion Meter

"Are you writing me a ticket?"
"Yes, I am."  His response was flat and devoid of all emotion.

I had just arrived in downtown York, PA for my interview at the York Heritage Trust regarding some volunteer opportunities.  I pulled up to a parking meter and was still sitting in my car, digging through my purse for change when I noticed a young man walking by.  I smiled at him as he passed, then went back to counting change.

Just then, I noticed the same man in my rearview mirror, peering at my license plate and writing something on a pad.  That's when the above interaction took place.  He didn't appear very moved by my "but I just got here and was collecting my change" story, and silently continued writing.  Defeated, I held out my hand to receive my undeserved punishment.  He ignored it and walked past me.  "Actually,"  he said with his back to me, in a monotone so low I could barely hear, "the law requires that I must place it directly on your windshield."  He placed the ticket in the law-approved spot and walked away without so much as a backward glance.

I expected to feel anger and frustration as I stood there in shock, watching my accuser as he turned the corner in pursuit of his next victim.  I didn't.  Actually, I couldn't put my finger on exactly WHAT I was feeling.  It wasn't the money, although I could think of a million other things on which I'd like to spend $20.00.  It wasn't even the obvious injustice of it all.

I finally realized it was the cold, emotionless way in which this man spoke to me. Although he never raised his voice or uttered a single insult, he also never made eye contact, never stopped writing, never really even acknowledged my presence.  He simply presented me (or rather, my windshield) with his business at hand and walked away.  I had been dismissed.  For the rest of the day, I couldn't shake how awful that made me feel.

I understand that this man's job is a difficult one.  It's probably essential for his own well-being that he keep up his guard.  I'm sure he's confronted with angry, belligerent people on a daily basis.  I, however, was not one of them, and he knew it.  It was just easier not to care.

I made a pact with myself at that very moment.  Whenever I'm performing my job, my volunteer work, or anything else in which I happen to be engaged, if at any time it becomes so mundane that I lose my ability to care and display a little humanity, then it's time to stop.  I will never allow myself to become that man.  Ever.

Wow, what a downer!  Thanks for reading, anyway!!

85 comments:

Gucci Mama said...

Unreal! I'm sure I would have grumbled and shaken my fists ineffectually had that happened to me.

And I'm with you; I'd never want to become devoid of humanity/emotion/common sense. Must not be a very happy existence.

Darlene said...

That is so sad and I can't believe he would really write that ticket when you were in your car. You would think the minute you stepped away, and didn't put money in the meter, it would be allowed but not while you were in your car. There are sooooo many people in the world right now that just don't seem to care. I hope I NEVER become one of them.

Sorry you had to pay that fine.

We live in a Zoo! said...

Wow! Makes you wonder how the ticket giver feels on a daily basis.

SM said...

I would have laughed in his face. I'm sorry, but what a dud.

You can fight that ticket by showing up and letting the judge know you were STILL in the car. I think it is against the law to give a ticket when a person just parked right?

He was probably new and was told to not engage or make eye contact. If you think about it, how many people get really mad and start yelling at parking attendants and traffic police. I'm not very good at confrontations so I would have done as you did and then said some choice words under my breath.

I've also heard...but I already started writing it and I can't get rid of it now...really? I've watched enough cop shows to know that's got to be some kind of bull.

Cheer up!!!! and think...thank god you are not him.

Yankee Girl said...

I cannot believe he did that! What a d-bag! I am pissed for you!

I never want to be that man either. He clearly sucks and I do not want anyone to say that about me. And I don't want to make anyone feel the way he made you feel.

{Kimber} said...

people in general just DO NOT care anymore...sad state of affairs
sorry you had to deal with poo head!

"Julie" said...

ugh that is awful! I totally agree with you, once you stop caring, it's time to stop, look around, and re-evaluate! Good thinking on your part! love you blog!

Taylor-Made Wife said...

Wow! I would be so upset. I honestly do not understand how someone coud care so little.

Taylor-Made Wife said...

Oh- and I don't care how little the fine was- I totally would have boycotted it.

Krista said...

That guy was a total meathead! BOOO HISSS for people with no compassion. May the fleas of a thousand camels infest his crotch and may his arms be too busy writing useless tickets to be able to scratch!!!

rxBambi said...

I agree that you should go to court and fight it. That's just an abuse of power in my opinion. Even if it is only $20, that's a weeks worth of food for some people. He needs to be taught a lesson.

GregoryJ said...

Should have reported the guy. What a jerk. Or should have fought the ticket.

Hey, Welcome to York. Stick em up.

Even at this distance, it POs me.

But, THANK YOU so much for telling be about ctrl +
Now I can read you very easily.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Good job Joan for not treating him in kind.

well since I write about this a great deal you know how i feel about this man don't you?

I will never understand why people think it's easier to put up a wall as opposed to a smile and a nice gesture - even while giving tickets. I once had a female officer be like that towards me and i told her I should be angry she was giving me the ticket - it made her laugh and then she smiled and told me to have a nice day. I told her fat chance after I show this to my husband and she laughed all the way back to her car.

It's like a quest for me to make 'em smile.

Sylvia K said...

I have to agree with the others, he's still a jackass and I do so admire the fact that you didn't treat him -- as Margaret wrote, in kind. What is happening to people these days??? I know times are hard for many of us, but does treating others this way improve anything??? I don't think so! I absolutely love what Krista wrote! My reaction, too! I'm sending thousands of fleas his way today!!

Sylvia

Shana said...

Oh my gosh. That is unbelievable. I can't believe he gave you a ticket and the way it was done is just downright rude. I will pray for him because obviously he needs it.

Ian said...

That is bullshit..whoops...my first comment and look at me cursing. Following you back!

Eva Gallant said...

Wow--what a jerk. Sorry you had to deal with such an asshat!

Kaloula said...

Is that really a picture of the offending officer? That is hilarious if it is and you took his picture writing you a ticket! But man, how frustrating and good for you for remaining calm about it!

Kimberly said...

I am so sad that you got your ticket.

I usually give tickets away...we are on a ticket system instead of the old fashioned meters. I prefer the old fashioned one. I hate putting my credit card in the machine.

Sorry you had to run into such a jack hole!

Kristin said...

Fabulous post. There seems to be loss of emotions epidemic these days!

Chell... said...

lol...this just got me all riled up! :/

Sorry that you had to experience such a cold 'hearted' moment. Just yesterday one of my servers didn't have time to great one of her tables. I did for her so they wouldn't sit there waiting to long. I go up to the table and start my whole "Hi! My name is -...."

"I want a diet and she'll have a water" he says completely cutting me off mid sentence. Neither individuals looked up at me or their server or even replied "thanks" when we told them to have a good night. Some people!..... Just makes you wonder...

OLLIE MCKAY'S ~ A Chic Boutique said...

Been there done that ~ Tell the guy to get a lief next time! LOL!! Not really - we were taught to respect the police!

Casy Schweickart said...

WOW, that is just rude!! You handled that way better than I would have.

Anti-Supermom said...

So stinkin' sad - that he wouldn't even acknowledge you were there *and* talking to him.

He must think he sucks too ;)

Being Me said...

Quite the contrary to being a 'downer', I am very uplifted by this post! I see it as a wonderful testament to your being awake and aware. Something I wish more of the world was. Er... like the parking officer. We can call him (and others like him) all the names we like, but really that gets us nowhere. Compassion for - surely - how hollowed-out/unfulfilled/angry/depressed or whatever he might be is probably going to do both people in an exchange like this MUCH more good than getting hot under the collar. He's kept that guard up because he's used to receiving that response. Wow. What an awful existence for him.

Helene said...

Amen...well said! My post today is exactly on this same topic!!

Quixotic said...

Oh my God, I would have totally snapped in this situation, roraring and gnashing of teeth and in the end it wouldn't have made one bit of difference... hence my blog name, I'm always tilting at windmills and getting upset, when I should just let it go....

Miss Go Lightly said...

Oh, I'm so very sorry to hear about how unjustly you were given this ticket by this seemingly, sad blank fella. Like you said, it's probably his job to keep himself guarded and emotionally detached as much as possible, and he has a quota to meet, and..and..and(can you tell I loathe parking meter people?) but at the same time how could someone be so cold? I think I'd much rather have it out with someone that being completed shut out like that. Grrr! Makes me upset for you because I've been there. But you're absolutely right, if you get to that point in any job you do..it's time to move on. But on the bright side of things, I'm happy to hear that my post made your day sweet :)
Oodles of Hugs!
-E

WhisperingWriter said...

Wow, what an arse that guy was!

Rachel said...

Amen. Amazing what one little interaction can do for someone's whole day. I wanna be that GOOD interaction.

Thanks for the reminder.

Jen said...

I feel all angry over this situation too! What a horrible way to be treated :( but then what is he going through to not care at all in that way?. I guess you like said, he is over it and this is his defence mechanism. So unfair that you just pulled up though and got the ticket. Grrr. I think the same as you, if you are so miserable at your job then perhaps it is time to get a new job, although in this economic climate maybe that is easier said than done.

Loving Wife, Working Mom said...

Boy... at least he didn't add any condescending tones to the sentences...

Just Add Walter said...

wow, that is terrible... you are supposed to check your emotions at the door when you are on a job... he had no right to treat you like that!

Jaime said...

aww. what a jerk! i can't believe you got a ticket on the way to volunteer. way to make you feel good about doing something good for others.

Corinne said...

I really liked this post - not because you got a ticket, that plain sucks - but because of the way you could get something good out of it. That's a wonderful way to live life. It will come back to you.

PS - can I just say $20 for a ticket?! In Sydney, Australia a parking fine is $80, which is about $71 USD. Of course if you forget to pay and they have to reissue is you will have to pay $136 (USD$121) as I recently found out.

Elle said...

I am so upset for you--that is completely ridiculous! I'd totally fight the ticket. That man must have an absolutely miserable life, to be so cold and uncaring.

Everyday Goddess said...

People like that must have a lot of suppressed rage. I'm just glad he didn't unleash it on you.

But I still don't get how he could have given you a ticket while you were in your car. Weird.

Erin said...

It's not a downer! You are right, we shouldn't let ourselves get to a place where we are that apathetic! It's a good reminder!

Great post!!

Missy said...

I don' think it's a downer either! That sucked - what he did. I try (TRY) to imagine that people who act like that are miserable and have no outlet. Like their lives are just terrible and they can't help themselves. But it's still hard to do, especially in a situation like that!

citymouse said...

That's unbelievable! I absolutely hate it when someone has the power to do something good/nice/etc and chooses not to. Being a meter maid/man has to suck anyway. You spend your whole day on the prowl waiting to catch someone.

I'm with you. I hope I never lose the ability to care. There's no use in doing something without passion behind it.

Kat said...

Wow! We were just talking about something similar at clinicals today, and how we never wanted to ever become "THAT" nurse...really, you wonder if their lives are even full...

lifeshighway said...

How touching and how amazing that you were not furious. I suspect you are correct, he has been worn down by too many rages to care.

Debbie(single;complicated) said...

wow. I can completely see why that would make you feel awful. How sad for him..but how yucky for you:(!! At least you took something good from it..many would have reacted differently!

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

Good for you. I try to do the same, and with my career, I feel it is very important. I can do some major harm if i acted indifferent like that. I am glad you saw it for what it was and made the vow not to make others feel that way!

Just be happy! said...

Wow... I am speechless.

Bossy Betty said...

Whoa. I think you are right--he probably has to deal with a lot of irate people. Hey! I watch "Parking Wars"! Still, he didn't have to act like a machine!

♥ Braja said...

Imagine his life, though....sigh.....

Kiera said...

i always feel a little sad instead of mad, too for people who are like that. you had to DETACH yourself from people. im really really sorry because that is ultimately sad.

sucks for your ticket. i have 110 dollars in library fees to pay. better?

thanks for stopping! cant wait to poke around your place some more!

Sinful Southern Sweets said...

You know...this really made me think. In my everyday jostling of two children at the grocery store, Walmart, etc.. I realize sometimes that I have forgotten to even make eye contact with people. I'm really going to make an effort to make sure that I make each person I come in contact with feel as though they have been acknowledged. Thanks for this post!!

BigSis said...

Came by to visit today and LOVE your blog. I'm following you ASAP.

"And so our stories go..." said...

Sorry you got a ticket and sorry you had this experience. But it made me think about how I react to people...good reminder. Thanks.
Mary

lori said...

At least you walked away from it with a resolution - that's about the only good that can come from being treated badly.

Maybe he had the problem I do every morning, which hubby loves to point out to me - floods and a wedgie and one is no doubt causing the other.

That'll make you grumpy! :-)

Heatherlyn said...

That is ridiculous!!! It is the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

However, I think that anyone enforcing rules can be like that. And the court system in general is mostly completely devoid of common sense and compassion.

Sometimes we become better people by seeing an example of what we do not want to emulate and becoming the opposite. In this instance, I think you are right to make a point of never treating another human being with such callous disregard.

SPEAKING FROM THE CRIB said...

girl, amen to that!

Melissa @ Cellulite Investigation said...

That happens to me all the time, where I come away from an interaction with someone and it takes me awhile to put my finger on why exactly I feel so lousy. It's great that you were able to identify why such a benign encounter made you feel so bad. Usually that in itself is enough to make me feel better.

Holly said...

I always get out of my car and count my change in front of the meter...not for any particular reason before..but now, that's a different story!

Sir Thomas AKA (Winters Reaper) said...

I’m actually proud of you, that you did not stoop to his level. Which by the sounds of it, was pretty low. You are right; it was not that fact of the ticket, but his dismissal of you as a human being with feelings. I would hunt him down and kick his ass for you but like you…



I will let karma do our kicking for us… it always does…

Shan said...

Way to go on finding the silver lining in *any*thing! Wow.

Okay, as I read about this guy, I have to say I was thinking, "He was probably one of my students." Not that most of them come across like this, but the autistic/aspergers kids do.

Angie's Junk said...

Unbelievable! That's about as bad as the ticket I got for following too close. (there's a post somewhere on my blog about it) I cried and cried because I was so mad. I would have been better if he'd given it to me for not using my turn signal - that, I did! But following too close?? PLEASE!

Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

Well said!! I love this post!
Such a loss of emotions nowadays!
Betty xx

emily said...

ugh!! i have TOTALLY had that happen to me before!! the columbus meter patrol is the worst!!!!!!!!!! :) sorry you fell victim to yours too!

The warrior in me said...

I love that story- feels like 20$ was worth it, to have learned that piece of wisdom- you just put me in touch with my compassionate self here. I've been rude to my mum when i've been frustrated with my reading- that WILL change. NOW. Thanks!

Samantha said...

I could not help to think that he might have Aspergers Syndrome... Glad the ticket was only 20 bucks & best of all you gained some valuable knowledge from the experience and so did we.

Helena said...

What strikes me is how you handled this guy. I just may not have had as much patience or humility. I'm not sure. It reminds me of other traffic related incidents that have occurred to me in the past. But really, these guys think they are Demi Gods and that people really can't say or do too much to them. They are pretty much right and I think power really goes to their heads.

RN Mama said...

Shut up! That is unreal. I think I would have fought it! You are a great story teller, by the way.

Red Shoes said...

The actions of that "being" just isn't right. That is what I would refer to as the actions of a "small" person. When I deal with people, I make eye contact... whether the news is good or bad... there are times that the news I am delivering can be 'altered'... and times that it can't be... but it doesn't prevent me from treating that person as a 'human'... something this person obviously was NOT! :oD

~shoes~

Kellyansapansa said...

I've come across people like this and I think that they must be deeply unhappy if they can't even muster a smile. Don't hate them, pity them instead.

Tammie said...

ive found that police officers and code enforcement people are some of the least compassionate people in our society. on the one hand, like you mentioned, i get that they sorta have to be, but on the other hand, what ever happened to protecting and serving. i do think it makes them seem less trustworthy and not on the side of the average, law abiding citizen.

Rhiannon said...

I hate it when the police have a power trip when they pull you over.

One time they pulled my boyfriend over for a random alcohol/drug test. When they were doing the drug test my boyfriend took them by surprise and asked if it "picked up garlic". The officer was stumped and promptly replied with a huff and walked off. Test was negative...duh.

ascu75 aka Don said...

I am sorry you got the ticket but what about the rest of the day tell us something POSITIVE XXX Don

Cheryl Moore said...

Wow, that's pretty sad that he gave you a ticket when you were just pulling into the spot and hadnt even gotten out of your car as you were looking for change to put in the meter! That is incredible!

I agree with some of the other comments: that police officer must have been a very unhappy person. Krista's comment about "fleas" gave me a good chuckle. Thx for the post. :)

Putz said...

read my second post, on dog at large, i have beeen under a clould of suspision for 4 years,and camped out my door the local police are waiting for my dog to be at large again so his{their} existance can be validated with giving me another ticket, but it won't happend, my dog will never be at large again ever, so go somewhere else and trip an old lady on main street

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