Jesus teaches us to love everyone, even the parking lady
By Arley Hoskin
One of my favorite things to do on a sunny day is take a stroll down Massachusetts Street in Lawrence.
With all the cute shops and street vendors, it is easy to pretend like I’m away on vacation and not a mere six blocks from my house. But nothing snaps me back into reality faster than the parking lady. (Technically I should say parking woman because I don’t know if she’s actually a lady. I really don’t know her at all.) I say the parking lady because there seems to be only one person in who hands out parking tickets in Lawrence. And this one person works 24/7. Those of you who live in Lawrence, or travel there frequently, surely have seen her with her short brown hair, knee-length shorts and yellow polo shirt.
I used to think Saturday was a safe day, so I never filled the meter until a couple weeks ago when I got a ticket outside of Amy’s Coffee House. I was only in there for two minutes, mind you. Two minutes. I guess the rules have changed.
So now I put money in the meters on Saturday, but everyone knows you don’t have to fill the meters after 5 p.m., right? Wrong. Last Friday I went to deposit a check in the bank at 5:30 (yes, I was the annoying customer who came in right at close) so I didn’t put money in the meter. I decided to wonder around Mass Street after I left the bank. I got a snow cone and then chatted with some guys from the ACLU about gay rights.*
Halfway through my conversation with the ACLU guys one of them pointed toward the parking lady.
“Watch out, the parking lady is at it again,” he said.
A panic set in. And I’m not really sure why because the tickets are only $2.50.
“Gotta go,” I said, cutting the conversation about civil rights short.
As I walked briskly to the humongous Dodge Ram I had parked outside the bank, I could hear the parking lady catching up to me. I sped to a jog. I got in the truck and put it in reverse as fast as I could. She reached the meter just seconds too late. I won the battle of the meter that day and felt like the scene could have been pulled straight out of Seinfeld.
The next night I went downtown to look for a Father’s Day gift. After I parked I immediately fed the meter.
“I don’t think you have to put money in the meter after 5,” some random guy told me as he walked by.
I love how people in Lawrence look out for one another.
“Well, I the parking lady was out last night after 5 so I’m a little paranoid,” I explained.
“Fucking parking lady,” he said shaking his head.
“I know,” I agreed in solidarity.
I suspect no one in town likes the parking lady. I mean why should we, she’s the parking lady.
During church on Sunday I was surprised when the parking lady popped into my mind during silent prayer. Seriously? Why am I thinking about the parking lady, I wondered. Is this because the sermon talked about gay rights and she has a stereotypical lesbian hair cut and uniform? What a wildly inappropriate thing to think during prayer.
Surely, I’m not that inappropriate, I thought as I began to pray there was something more to this vision of the parking lady. And then it hit me. I don’t even no this woman. I claim to dislike her, even despise her at times, and I don’t even know her.
And then I thought about the people who dislike homosexuals because of some orthodoxy to which they subscribe. I honestly believe that if these people actually had a gay or lesbian friend their hate and fear would disintegrate in the realization that we are all just people, regardless of our sexual orientation.
And that’s the story of how I realized that Jesus teaches us to love everyone, even the parking lady.
*If you would like to donate money to help pay the legal fees in discrimination cases, visit aclu.org. It’s a great cause, even though it’s not tax deductible. I’m sure you will get lots of karma points for helping out.