to celebrate national novel writing month (or the unfortunately nicknamed "NaNoWriMo") this year i will spare myself the white-hair-inducing effects of writing 50,000 words in the month of November by writing a story a day.
these stories will be of any length and veer into any territory i wish. the idea is for me to write one a day for every day of november. these will be first drafts with minimal editing.
if you are into any of it. please comment below! perhaps you can help me figure out if there's ANYthing in these stories worth adapting or polishing into something awesome.
story 23. parking ticket theater (by jenny yang. friday, november 29, 2013)
i tried to cry myself out of a parking ticket this week. i’m not proud of my work. but it happened.
i’ve been working on my acting skills and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.
i mean, when is acting in real life not acting but real? i often wonder that when i watch the latest catfight between two preserved plum housewives on the teevee.
i consider myself a responsible handler of my vehicle. if you live in the los angeles area, you have to be. cars are a huge part of our cost of living. If you don’t factor in the occasional expense of a blown tire or parking ticket then you are dumb and don’t deserve to operate a tool that can become a weapon for committing homicide.
that said, i do not believe in parking meters. if i can manage to find parking away from the main commercial street and in the neighborhood, i will walk myself the ten minutes it takes to live the next few hours without the weight of getting a parking ticket on my shoulders.
8pm was when the meters shut off Tuesday night on the busy commercial strip of Melrose Avenue. my buddy and i got there at 5:45 so the maximum two hours of meter time gave my car the blinking green light of approval until just before the 8pm cutoff. no problem. i had a sweet spot right in front of the large windows to the restaurant where we were dining. i sat facing my sweet sweet nissan hatchback chariot and all was going to be well.
“i’ll just set an alarm for myself on my iphone.” i said to myself.
then we couldn’t figure out where to sit. is it too cold to sit in the open-air backyard patio? or should we sit in the front? will it get too loud in the front? oh maybe the back will be okay. we went back and forth a couple times. then we got acquainted with our new dining buddy and off to the meeting agenda at hand we went. this was no mere social call. we were planning an upcoming cultural event in los angeles. the meeting of the minds it was. but that meeting of the minds clearly left no room for my mind to remember to set the alarm on my phone.
fast forward to about 7:32. our fourth buddy of the dinner meeting needed to run soon to move his car. oh yes. me too. i needed to add some coinage. oh but how about that idea to get a beer garden at the festival? we launched into another five minutes of careful consideration about this event we were planning.
the next thing i knew, i looked at my phone and it was 7:48 and my dining partner looked outside and said, “is a guy ticketing your car, jenny?”
i bolted outside. everything was going inside my head.
you are saving money right now. need to make your dollars stretch. you are fulltime freelance and don’t need to get a day job so soon if you save your money.
you are waiting on some checks to add some cashflow. they are coming but they are not here yet.
my meter probably JUST expired. this is not how it was supposed to go.
and there i was. i approached this young meter maid and said, i think it just expired i’m so sorry i cannot afford this right now. they people inside are paying for my meal. that’s pretty much my life right now! people who are nice to the artist trying to make ends meet so this is not a bill i can handle right now.
the tears started to come out.
he barely looked up from his ticketing machine. no eye contact.
he would’ve seen the tears that squeezed out.
“i’m sorry. i’ve already put in your license plate and i cannot reverse it once i do that.”
i look over to the meter and i see a swift-moving asian lady put in quarters into the meter, showing them to me before stuffing them down the gullet of that regulator of temporary space renting. i had violated the terms of my lease and the landlord came for the reaping.
“it’s okay. i want you to have a good experience here. i pay for your ticket.” she gave me a hug. “it’s thanksgiving. i want you to have a good experience.”
“no. no! you don’t have to do that!”
and just like that, the asian lady snatched the freshly printed ticket from my hands, barely warmed by my touch.
i went back inside after the asian lady made a beeline with my ticket to the back of the restaurant.
i sat down and my friend said, “that’s the owner, ping, i think.”
oh my god. she’s going to pay for my ticket?
my eyes were still watering.
two of the three dining buddies were my friends. but the third i just met that night. she was visibly uncomfortable by my little parking breakdown.
it’s hard to figure out when my strategic motivation to cry to get out of the ticket started and when the actual feelings of not having “enough” in my budget to pay for this ticket ended.
all i know is emotions are real and i unleashed them at the logical moment.
the dining buddy i met that night quickly changed the subject to discuss the interior decor of the restaurant.
i continued wiping up my tears. the eyes of the buddy that came with me were getting glossy.
in the end, the feeling of scarcity that motivated my emotional reaction to getting this ticket was obliterated quickly by the owner of this restaurant. i had never before experience this level of “customer service” or immediate act of kindness from the owner of a restaurant.
let’s say i’ll be going back to Ping Tung: An Eat-In Market on Melrose and inviting a bunch of my friends very soon.
i will also make sure to park away from the meters.