David Rabbitborough's A to Z of Australian Species

 

THE PARKING OFFICER

The Parking Officer is one of the most deadly creatures on the Australian scene. Like sharks - to which they are related - they are a dull grey in colour, and cruise slowly around the streets in pairs in search of their prey, unprotected motor vehicles.

Australians have learnt to live with Parking Officers and it is quite common for the peace and calm of an Australian office to be shattered by the cry "They're chalking the tyres!" whereupon everyone rushes to save their cars. Indeed it is one of the few saving graces of these creatures that they have the strange habit of marking the cars with chalk before returning to savage them.

Despite the threat which they pose to commerce, local authorities are powerless to eradicate Parking Officers and have had to be satisfied with setting up signs to warn motorists away from areas where parking officers are prone to strike. These zones are marked with red and yellow lines. But even cars left in so called safe areas are at risk if left too long so councils have installed meters which show a red alarm when the safe time has expired.

Ironically, the sight of an expired meter itself is enough to send a Parking Officer into what's called a booking frenzy. Once the Officer begins to write a ticket nothing can stop them. They seem not to be able to hear or understand any form of verbal plea and are impervious to any form of force or reason. There have been incidents reported where the hands of Parking Officers, cut off at the wrists by enraged motorists, have still continued to write the ticket.

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