Monday, 12 August 2013

Lessons Learned from Parking Fines

Just the other day, I parked the car I was driving in a designated parking space by the side of a wide and not particularly busy street. I walked down the road to the parking meter, read the information twice, inserted some coins, collected the ticket and stuck it carefully on the correct side of the windscreen.

A few hours later, I came back to find a big stinking parking ticket tucked under my windscreen wipers.

The cause? I had inadvertently paid at the wrong machine. Had I used the one that was ten metres behind my car rather than twenty in front of it, I would have seen that the conditions for the space I was parked in were not the same. Similar, extremely similar in fact, but not identical. Looking at my surroundings, I could see no explanation for the difference, but was nevertheless forced to admit to myself that I hadn't been careful enough about reading the signs and the fine was technically my own stupid fault.

Normally when this kind of thing happens, I have a tendency to go home and rant to Understanding Frenchman about his stupid, unreasonable country where nothing is clearly explained, everyone is out to get you and public-spirited people like me who try our best to do everything by the book are penalised while the really bad folks get away with murder.

This time I couldn't. The reason? This little incident happened not in the land of Gallic complexity and a Mediterranean attitude towards rules, but in my home city in my dear little beloved Scotland, where I generally choose to believe that the signs are clear, the rules are straightforward and even the traffic wardens might be friendly.

The little lesson I learned might have been to read the parking regulations more carefully in future (especially as fines in Edinburgh are the equivalent of a whopping 40 euros a time), but the bigger one was much more important: bad stuff happens everywhere and not all problems in France are related to its Frenchness.

(And parking wardens everywhere really are out to get you).

Before my trip to Scotland, Understanding Frenchman and I spent a fabulous two weeks in bella Italia. Don't forget to head over to my Italian blog for posts about the beautiful Valle d'Aosta and challenging some cultural stereotypes, with more on Italian weddings and the lovely region of Liguria coming up soon!

1 comment:

  1. Ouch! That's a stiff amende!

    Parking regulations are always hard to understand I find. In Ottawa, I always read the signs twice...