Gloucester Road and a plump, pale, middle-aged man, his shirt bleeding the hungry sweat of a late Thursday afternoon pulls over his weathered BMW sharply and parks on one of those damn yellow lines with a sign above that said you really don’t want to be parking here at this time of the day.
On my walk to the shops to get a few essentials, I passed two traffic wardens aggressively pumping tickets at any car that dared to so much as whisper. They'd quickly be upon this BMW, sloshing their foamy penalties over its dirty dirty windscreen.
To all intents and purposes the driver appeared to have the arrogance and badly worn aggression that is prevalent in those that choose BMWs. He walked up towards me; nose high in the air allowing the nostril creatures to see the smug cloudless sky. My emotions should have been swaying to satisfaction - this bluster of paunch was to have the nasty shock of a sixty pound fine waiting for him when he got back. But for some reason, just as he was about to pass, a little fountain of virtue started sprinkling raw compassion all over my insides. I decided that it should be me to reach out the olive branch; to try and bring BMW and non-BMW owners to, if not friendship, at least an understanding. To break the chains of hate with the…
‘You don’t want to park it there mate,’ I said, my voice lowering in tone, my words littered with the word ‘mate’ (two things that always happen when I am forced to have any discussion involving cars), ‘wardens just up their mate’ I added.
‘And?’ he replied, stomach wobbling in sympathy to his incredulity.
‘Well they’ll give you a parking ticket mate’ I replied, stating the obvious to the oblivious. I thought that perhaps he hadn’t realised what traffic wardens did. BMW drivers do seem to have huge gaps in their knowledge; most look upon traffic lights are some pointless roadside lightshow they're not invited to and see ‘giving way’ ss some strange religious ritual practiced by non-German cars.
‘They can try!’ he countered, as if a traffic warden’s attempt to place a parking ticket on a stationary unoccupied car had a ridiculously low percentage chance of success.
Into Somerfield I went. Into the heart of maverick convenience store eccentricity. I emerged twenty minutes later with a bag in each hand and started to walk back down the road noticing the BMW still parked. Its owner stood next to it on his mobile gesticulating, poking the parking ticket in his right hand skywards – telling whoever it might be how unfair it is that he should have received a parking ticket for parking illegally, for parking illegally.
Could I dampen the smile that is forming on my face? Could I halt its inevitable progress into bearing teeth? I tried, I really did. I looked away from him as I approached but he clocked me and said, ‘just a minute’ into his phone before covering the mouthpiece. ‘Did you do this?’ he shouted nodding towards the ticket in his sweaty stupid hand. I came to a stand still. Me, the single person in the entire fucking universe that had tried to stop this happening now stood accused. ‘Well?’ he continued, eyes widening, body rigid in flab.
There is no common ground, there can be no understanding. We’re two distinct groups, always
destined to exist separately. Me trying to bring us together is as unnatural as cross-breeding a pig with a wooden spoon. They have a BMW, we don’t; there’s no middle-ground in which we can all go for a picnic.
‘Yes’ I said, ‘It was me.’