In an uncharacteristic move, I skirted a parking law last week. A busy downtown resulted in five minutes of driving with no empty spots.
The salmon I was jonesin’ for and had ordered over the phone awaited me in a restaurant across the intersection, catty-corner from my very illegal parking spot. Every space in this certain lot is marked with clear signage that non-building patrons, AKA violators, will be towed.
I sat in the spot studying the sign, considering what Muscato would do…
Allow me to take pause for personality context.
I. am. a. rule follower. (most of the time) I like neither the racing heart, sweaty palms, and frantic tummy flutters that accompany getting caught nor the distraction and shame that follows.
My husband on the other hand? It’s not that he’s above rules so much as he just doesn’t concern himself with them. His sharp mind can reason through just about anything, plus he’s a good dude through and through. Being a good “dude” helps in life, especially when rules are more guideline than gospel.
My gaze flitted from sign to salmon, salmon to sign, until finally? Eff it. I can make it to and from the restaurant faster than a tow truck can get to my car.
I was 100% correct — I was faster than a tow truck.
But I wasn’t faster than the patroller who, unbeknownst to me, STANDS GUARD IN THE BUILDING MONITORING PARKING SPOTS VIA A SECURITY CAMERA.
I’m not proud of this next part. I’ll share it, nonetheless, because it is the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God.
As the parking patroller reentered the building, my mind ferreted for the “trouble-free” way out. I bypassed my car and went straight into the building as if I had business there, innocently none-the-wiser of that white paper tucked under my windshield wiper.
I walked past the patroller to the directory to find which floor I was there to “visit.” I no more than landed on a selection and a voice says, “Can I help you find something?”
“No,” I said turning to see a familiar face. “Just found it. Fourth floor.”
“How are you?” he asked, recognizing me. We share a friendly exchange that undoubtedly makes it to the security stand.
Are you hearing this, parking patroller? I know people here.
I proceeded to the elevator. The doors opened, and one of my friends exited. We, too, exchanged hellos, and I pushed my floor selection.
I hope you’re listening, parking patroller! There’s another witness to my being in this building, thus NOT parking illegally.
My wits (re: desperation) took me to the fourth floor where I contemplated going in on behalf of the magazine for which I work to seal my ticket-free right to that parking spot.
I stopped in the hall and reassessed.
Nothing I came up with would come across as authentic…you know, because it wasn’t.
Rather than extend my rule-skirting stink-trail with half-truths and deception, I pressed the elevator button and began my descent…
…down the hall…
…past the unmanned security stand…
…maybe he’s taking that ticket off my windshield since he knows I had business here…
…and out to my car…
…where I discover a written warning. In all caps. Threatening towing next time along with the make, model, and license plates of my vehicle that are undoubtedly stored in some holy grail of records kept at the security stand.
I took the warning off my windshield, and still, STILL, I considered going BACK in the building to tell the guy how unwarranted the warning was. (It was totally warranted.)
Thankfully, I cut myself off from this nonsensical hysteria. Don’t do the crime if you’re unwilling to pay the time, so they say. Speaking of time, I spent more time pretending my actions were just than it would have taken me to find a legal spot and walk a further distance for my order. I placed my sweaty palms on the steering wheel, called Muscato, and drove my fluttery tummy, racing heart, and now-cold salmon back home.
I enjoyed my salmon about half because that’s all I could stomach to eat and eventually turned off all sound in the house so I could sit with my feelings of disconnect and worry.
It settled quickly, and here’s why:
It was never about breaking a parking rule or getting caught by an unknown parking patrol.
I, the self-proclaimed rule follower, assumed Muscato’s life approach rather than my own. In doing so I broke my own standard of rule following. Ironic, no?
Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, do better.”
I didn’t do better. When I didn’t do better by myself, I slid further and further away from my truths by acting deceitfully (something I have no tolerance for).
Stay true to yourself. Not true to who your parents say you should be or true to who your spouse is. Don’t be true to your coworkers’ norms or true to the Jones’ level of living.
Be true to you. Just you. It’s not about the world’s rules; it’s about your own. Learn what they are. Learn your boundaries. Gain that inherent knowledge.
And when you know better?