"I'm not trying to buy the road … I just wanted to park on it"

Transports of Delight

Last week, a letter entitled ‘My Rejected Parking Appeal Retort’ went viral on Facebook. It was written by a known troublemaker a dear friend of mine, who recently received a hefty parking fine. She appealed the fine, but her appeal was rejected. (When you read the letter, you might figure out why.) Subsequently she wrote this letter to a representative of the City of South Perth – a poor man named Phil – outlining her general feelings on the rejection. This letter is about a parking fine … but it’s so much more than that.

In it, she ranges wildly in tone and philosophy, from questioning the role of government in our daily lives, to oblique (and seemingly irrelevant) Tom Cruise references. She dismisses feminism, endorses privatisation, and accuses South Perth of careening towards an Orwellian dystopia in which Big Brother is always watching. Remember, this started because she parked slightly outside the lines of a parking space.

This letter is hysterical. In every. Sense. Of the word.

I initially took the letter at face value, as just another eccentric thing my friend Jess did. But as more people have read it and discussed it, full-blown arguments have erupted.

“She’s making a valid point! Why do we have to pay to park on roads that we drive on for free?”

“We pay for what we use! We pay so that the City can afford to maintain the roads!”

“Isn’t that why we pay taxes? Why are they punishing us for using roads for which we’re already paying taxes?”

“It’s not punishment, it’s a clear set of consequences that you agree to when you participate in civilisation!”

“Civil liberties, blarrh!”

(And that was just the argument going on inside my own head.)

So, before you read the letter, I want to ask you: what is your opinion on parking fines? Is it reasonable for the City to issue punitive fines when we’re parking on public roads? Are roads something to which we have a right as citizens, or must we pay extra for the privilege? Are parking meters and fines a “revenue raising” scheme, as my friend suggests, or are they in the interests of public safety?

On a broader philosophical note, I would also like to ask: Do we serve the government? Or does the government serve us?

I’m going to copy in my friend’s letter for you, now. By the way, she really did send it. (The addressee’s name has been changed, because I believe in protecting privacy, even if ‘Gov’ doesn’t. Ooh, ideological burn!) After reading it, I suggest punching the air and yelling “WE ARE THE NINETY-NINE PER CENT!”

My Rejected Parking Appeal Retort

Dear Mr McKay, (if that even is your real name)

I understand that you feel that the City of South Perth could really use the $100 from my parking fine – it being “tough times” and all… In fact, I’m pretty sure there is a parking inspector in Greece that is blaming their crisis on being lenient on the Gucci laden women that park so recklessly in their suburban streets. So, how do you even sleep at night? I’m just taking a stab in the dark here Phil, but I’m guessing it’s on thousands of $100 bills that you’ve collected from poor, naive women like me; who just have terrible depth perception and can’t tell if they’re parked in the right space or not.

Surely there is a “women driver” clause that gives us a bit of grace? What about a warning to be more careful, or simply be more attentive? Or issue a forced public apology even? Now I’m all for equality, but I think the feminist movement has a lot to answer for. I’ll be honest, Phil, I don’t like lifting heavy things, or opening doors for myself; they’re just dirty.

Now, I don’t have a clever segue-way for my next point, but did you ever see that film, I think Tom Cruise was in it (shame about the divorce) Minority Report maybe? Anyway, it was about convicting people of crimes before they could commit them? Which in the end turned out to be a terrible idea and I’m pretty stoked we don’t have that kind of technology to enforce that in our society. Japan may be the closest to it – or Germany, for different reasons – but hey, I don’t live there, I live in Australia – quite possibly the greatest nation on this planet, despite it’s petty parking laws and over zealous Rangers – but alas, I digress. We just don’t punish people for victimless crimes these days, Phil! It’s just not hip! Maybe all the cool kids are working at the City of Perth or something, because they’re certainly not hanging out on the south side of the basketball court if you get my drift….

This whole spiel about parking laws being in place for public safety seems like its just bureaucratic jumping-on-a-couch-mumbo-jumbo. As if anyone has been hurt because someone hadn’t parked exactly inside the yellow lines in the first place? Enlighten me, Phil – just how are those solid yellow lines of paint on Mill-Point Road saving lives?

Let’s be honest, it’s not really about safety is it, Phil? It’s simple revenue raising! It always is! And without parking laws, we can’t create over-paid jobs to enforce them, or pay for the office Christmas Party now could we? Gina is keen to import labour from overseas – maybe you should try that to reduce your costs? Perhaps then you could issue more affordable fines, for say, twenty or even forty dollars, whilst still being able to go out for lunch on the corporate credit card. I’m sure Gina would agree that $100 for a parking infringement, in this circumstance, is pretty steep – even with the new carbon tax in place. You know Phil, I’m not actually trying to buy the four meters of road I was parked on – I was just borrowing it for half an hour.

In all seriousness, I find it pretty lowbrow to be issued a fine for parking slightly out of the space, but still within it mind you. Perhaps you should give out vouchers for parking lessons, as it looks like there is a minimum standard of competency that I have missed out on. I don’t believe this violation of your South Perth lore is fair, and I reckon it’s worth appealing.

That said, I would love to see the photos the Ranger took of my car. Please email them to my email address – I most certainly don’t have the resources to come to visit the rangers of the mighty South Perth Civic Centre during work hours to view in person, and I’m sure the photographic evidence is already on your system. Surely your department isn’t still taking snaps with Polaroid’s? Well, it seems there are so many of these wandering Rangers about – can’t one of them just bring the photos over to me? Alternatively I am happy to send you a self-addressed envelope for you to send them to me via post. You already have my address, license plate number, car description etc. – so finding my postal address shouldn’t be too difficult.

It may be worth noting that my blood type is O+ just incase you need me to sign another form with it – I know how you local government types love to see things jump through hoops; whoa, hold up – is that why the City of Perth has a circus camped out on the foreshore?! My God, is that what it’s there for??!!!

I’m not a believer in ponsey appeal processes and I am looking forward to writing to you for the long-term.

Kind Regards,




12 thoughts on “"I'm not trying to buy the road … I just wanted to park on it"

    1. Oh, without a doubt! And I have a feeling she’d win! We’d all vote for her, just to see what she’d do. 🙂

  1. I love this because even though I’m stuck in a job at a big corporate entity, I trained to be – and was – a public administrator for years before joining the private side. This just brought back many nights of class lectures on the role of government and antiquated jokes about how we need public administrators to fill potholes.

    My favorite part of this letter:

    We just don’t punish people for victimless crimes these days, Phil! It’s just not hip! Maybe all the cool kids are working at the City of Perth or something, because they’re certainly not hanging out on the south side of the basketball court if you get my drift….

    1. Oh wow, you were a public administrator! Then I’d really like to get your opinion on the role of gov’t in our lives. I like to keep up with US politics sometimes because they are constantly having that debate. The ideological divide between Democrats and Republicans makes for some interesting discussions. However, the debate in Australia seems to be pretty stifled, probably because our two main parties are pretty much identical.

      1. Sigh – yes, I earned my master’s degree in public administration (MPA). Spent 2 years basically as the assistant budget director for my state’s health department. Before that, spent 3 years working in human resources at a local school district. Also worked on campus at the state university and for a nonprofit.

        I’m open to discussions about this. I’m on the fence about whether I’d like to go back into it. It’s tough because the work feels so much more meaningful, but at the same time I was feeling burnt out.

        I believe you have my email – you are welcome to drop me questions at any time. Working at the state level gave me a very up close look at policy making in progress – which typically deflates the optimism most of us fresh MPA grads feel going into the field.

      2. Wow, you have done a lot. I am just starting my graduate diploma in Education – to become a teacher – and I’m wading into all the policy and administrative stuff. It would be interesting to get an MPA’s view of some of these things, so I’ll definitely drop you an email with any questions! 🙂

    1. AWESOME.. I love it more because several years ago.. after receiving 2 bogus parking tickets within a month of each other I took my ticket to court. Yes.. I wasted over 5 hours in court to fight a $20 parking ticket. Before that I actually purposely parked downtown no less than 35 times which was about 32 times more than I usually do in an entire year. Each time I parked I wrote the meter number down and the cost of the parking. Each time I paid to park I noted whether or not I was ripped off and out of say 35 times of parking I was ripped off from 1 minute to 15 minutes in all but 2 times. The judge was shocked.. and Yes I won.. so hours of parking and paying, 5 hours in court and VICTORY BE MINE..

      1. Don’t get me wrong I was mocked profusely for it but it was so ridiculous.. and WRONG.. ha.. it’s sort of funny now but at the time I was REALLY angry.. now I just don’t park down there.

  2. I dropped off paperwork at a government office. The parking ran across the front and down the side. In the corner was the square where no car can park, so I parked my motorcycle there, since I could get in and out without disturbing anyone. Five minutes later, I came out to find a ticket for “Not parking within a designated space”, but the parking was free, and the lot was busy. I left a car spot empty for a car to use it, and it cost me $30 Cdn for being thoughtful.

    1. Ah man, I’m sorry to hear that! It is a perfect example of a love of rules winning out over common sense.

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