Dear Dirty America


L.A. Meter Maid Tells Tourists: Stop Asking Me to Take Your Stupid Family Pictures

July 30
22:18 2011
Larry, the Meter MaidLos Angeles ‘meter maids’ have a difficult job in ticketing cars that have been parked too long, parked at an expired meter, double parked, parked in a restricted zone, and so on. Meter maids often have to deal with angry auto owners who are rushing back to their vehicles to find the maid already writing up that ticket. But is the worst part of the job the fact that L.A. meter maids constantly get hit up to take pictures for the city’s tourists? And is that really a problem?

For Larry Smith (fake name), yes, being asked by Hollywood tourists to capture their Kodak moments while he’s in the middle of his job is a problem. He’s sick of it. “Probably ten times a day,” he says, “I get hit up by some family who are all dressed in polo shirts and cargo shorts to take their picture for them. It’s hectic enough ticketing cars on Hollywood [Blvd] without being stopped every so many minutes.”

Larry is frustrated and he’s even contemplated quitting his job. “Let me say for the record to all tourists who come to Hollywood: stop asking me to take your stupid family pictures. I can’t fake a smile any more and tell you that you’ve got a good looking family. That’s not my job. I’m not here to give folks a friendly Hollywood experience.”

I first met Larry when he stormed past the coffee shop I was at. I’d been sitting outside reading the paper and shooting espresso when this haggard meter maid (a solid two hundred pound man) strode by me shaking his head and saying dirty things like, Cocksucking tourists wanna ask me to take their picture. I’ll take it all right and I’ll kindly fit it up their rectum when I’m done.

The maid didn’t appear to be talking to anyone, so I said, Hey there sport, you hate tourists too? That was all it took for us to be friends. He stopped walking and sat at my table. He was sweating profusely. His Los Angeles meter maid outfit’s armpits were soaked through. “Thirteen of those degenerate families asked me to take their picture this morning. I smiled for all of them. But that’s it. I’m a parking officer, not a goddamn Hollywood tourist advocate.”

I handed him my glass of water. He drank and continued, “It’s not like I’m getting asked my hotties, but just ugly fucking families.”

I don’t blame you for feeling rowdy, I said. Some of those tourists can be real assholes. But they feed the bums, which is good because Los Angeles doesn’t. The LAPD arrests them for trying to find an old sandwich in the garbage can.

Larry lightened up. He sensed I was friendly. We talked a little longer and shook hands. He gave me his phone number — good to get a drink sometime and go tom-catting around Hollywood (his words).

The Tourists

I went to Hollywood Blvd and asked the first overweight, middle-aged man wearing shorts and a fanny pack I could find how he takes pictures of his family while on vacation. Do you hand that expensive camera (which was slung around his neck) off to a stranger and ask them to take a picture of your family while you pose in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater?

“Certainly not,” the tourist said, with his smiling wife and two young boys proudly standing behind him. “Say, are you a famous journalist?” I prompted him to continue answering my question, “I wouldn’t hand my camera off to anybody in Los Angeles. This city is very interesting, but we don’t trust anybody who lives around here.”

What about another tourist? I asked. Such as yourself. You’re easy enough to spot.

“That might be a good option,” he said, and his wife and sons nodded. These people had lots of Norwegian blood in them. Good looking family, just a little overweight — I wouldn’t delve into such detail if I didn’t think it was pertinent for this kind of serious journalism. “But mainly, we don’t trust anybody in this city, so I have to take a picture of Cindy and the kids, and then she takes a picture of me and the kids.”

Want me to take your picture, while I’m here?

The wife blurted out, “Oh sure!” The man eyed me wearily and then said, “No, thank you. But I appreciate the offer.”

Would you ever ask a meter maid to take your picture?

He thought about it for awhile, and Cindy’s eyes lit up. One of the kids immediately sat on the foul sidewalk where bums and winos and drunken hipsters often puke up their alcohol and slightly digested over-sized slice of pizza. “That would be a good idea,” he said. “You mean a parking official.”

A meter maid, I said. Whatever. Someone in uniform, but not a cop.

“I’d trust a meter maid. That’s a great idea, now that I think about it.”

They like that, I said, and they’re patrolling Hollywood pretty late because the city likes to pinch you for parking around here as late as possible. Feel free to ask them, I said, I know that makes them feel like they’re a part of the moment.

“It sure would be nice to get a picture of us all while we’re here. I’m going to ask the next parking person I see.”

We shook hands and parted.


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