A couple of weeks ago I was driving towards Cannery Row. I turned off of Lighthouse into the left lane of Foam. For those unfamiliar with the area, Foam is a two lane one way street.
Traffic was heavy that day, as it usually is on summer weekends. As I turned onto Foam, traffic came to a dead stop. I could see some yellow flashing lights ahead, and as I slowly crept forward I saw it was a meter maid cart.
The meter maid wasn't writing a ticket, she was just talking to someone. Her cart was blocking traffic. People in the left lane were trying to get around her, but were having trouble due to heavy traffic in the right lane. This meter maid was clearly oblivious to the fact that she had two lanes of traffic backed up for almost two blocks. Sensing that, I decided to let her know, so as I passed I rolled down my window and said "You're gumming up traffic." All she needed to do to solve the problem was to move into one of several empty parking spaces a few feet ahead of her.
Immediately she began to pursue me. At the Reeside signal she stopped in a parking space alongside me and shouted for me to roll down my window, which I did. She then screamed "If you have a problem you take it up with the parking department. I was just doing my job!"
Which made me wonder, if what she was doing was so important, why was she suddenly able to drop it and pursue me? Anyway, a few minutes later I saw her again, blocking traffic. This time she was on a side street, with a line of cars wrapped around the corner trying to turn off of Foam onto that side street. Again, she was oblivious, and again she could have gotten out of their way by pulling off to a clear spot immediately in front of her.
Anyway, per her instructions, I called the parking office the following Monday and made a complaint.
Today I was driving the same route, and in almost exactly the same place there was a meter maid blocking traffic. I can't say for sure that this was the same meter maid, but she looked similar. She was standing on the sidewalk two or three car lengths from her cart, writing a ticket. Traffic was lighter today, and I was able to pass her cart with less trouble.
But as I passed, it began moving. Slowly at first, and I suddenly realized nobody was in it! I watched in my mirror as it picked up speed and drifted across two lanes of traffic. It seemed like an awfully long time before I saw the meter maid in frantic foot pursuit. Too late, it smashed into the side of a parked car, probably belonging to an unsuspecting tourist who came here to have a good time.
I've never been very fond of Monterey's parking enforcement staff. One time, several years ago, a zealous officer ticketed several people in my neighborhood multiple times in one week. We were all parked in our own driveways, which were just a little too short for a car to completely clear the sidewalk. Never mind that we'd been parking there for many years. For this one week we were his favorite target.
And a few years ago I was ticketed for lingering too long in a 90 minute space. Problem is, the time indicated on the ticket showed that it was issued just 45 minutes after I parked. I tried to fight it, but lost. It was my word against the ticket. Guess which they believed.
Ironically, the City of Monterey's official parking website is called "Smart Parking."