Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Harvard Square

April 8, 2013

It was 3:04pm. I had left my mom’s minivan on the street for exactly 2 hours, so I stepped to the Pay to Park machine 20 feet away and swiped my debit card. New ticket in hand, I turned towards my vehicle.

A woman with dirty blond hair was standing with meter in hand, looking at my license plate. That unmistakeable “meter maid” badge gave me the evil eye from her upper arm.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

I felt relaxed. “Hi there,” I called out. “I’ve already paid.” It was 3:06pm. I’d been standing right there at the machine all along. Did she forget to glance over to check?

She looked up suddenly and became instantly agitated. She began punching at the buttons on her little machine.

“Well, you know,” her voice was pinched. “I’m already on the screen. Once you’re on the screen, there’s no way to back out, so I’m going to have to print it.”

I was wordless, watching. The little ticket printed out, and she crumpled it forcefully in her fist. “I’m going to have to cancel it back in the office.”

“Ok,” I said, still watching her with interest.

“You know, we are fast. We are really fast.”

“Ah, yes you are,” I said, trying to be encouraging.

She appeared to be done. I opened the car door and placed my new parking receipt on the dash.


5 Responses to “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Harvard Square”

  1. jaypinho said

    Ha! Two things:

    1) I like how two of your recent posts have been about Boston parking (which is a topic so complex it warrants its own entire blog).

    2) It’s so typical for a “meter maid” (especially one in Boston) to expect you to feel bad for her for writing you a ticket.

    • It’s interesting you call it a complex topic.

      I think Cambridge merits its own discussion before Boston. The city is famously vicious, although I can’t say I disagree with the way they do things. Otherwise, it would be impossible to live or park there, ever.

      I really did feel bad for her though. Given the way Bostonians are (we all know how much I don’t love my fellow Bostonians), she must face some brutal responses.

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