My offence was that I had parked in the same spot by the side of the street for more than an hour.
As the photo above shows the warden ticketed me for not moving my car after 1 hour and 12 minutes.
In truth I was actually parked in that spot for a little bit longer than that.
I was taking my son to an after-school drama class.
The class lasts for an hour. The car-park at the community centre was full.
So I parked on the street. There were several empty spaces. I forgot to move it in time.
There were still several empty spaces when I picked my car up.
I try not to personalise issues like this. I’ve seen the red-coated wardens often patrolling the village.
Their harassed eyes and expressions betray the pressure they are under to collect more fines.
They have to make a living like everyone else. Just part of the bigger system.
And they are certainly active in Hillsborough where I live. In the first six months of this year 275 parking fines were handed out in the village.
In the same six month period there were 12 towns in Northern Ireland in which not a single parking fine was handed out.
They are Ahoghill, Armagh, Ballykelly, Castlewellan, Cullybackey, Dromore (Co Tyrone), Gilford, Kesh, Newtownstewart, Portballintrae, Richhill and Tandragee.
I’m not familiar with the regulations in these towns. Perhaps they are different. Perhaps the people are simply much better at obeying the traffic regulations.
The neighbouring town of Dromore, which is significantly larger than Hillsborough, received 15 tickets in the six month period.
I know I’ve only got myself to blame. I know I stayed over the time. I was all to aware the red coats were just desperate to pounce.
But I can’t help but feel annoyed at the sheer inanity of it. Who benefits from it? Has trade in the village been improved? Am I supposed to have learnt some sort of lesson?
Or is it simply hitting a soft target so another £90 fine can be collected?
Can this really be the priority?
I note that the ticket has the logo of the Department of Infrastructure on it.
So in any normal society I would thus know exactly where I could direct my unhappiness.
But not here. Not where there is no functioning government. Where our utterly useless, contemptible excuse for a political ruling class get paid a full wage as a reward for abject pitiful failure.
Where decisions on our lives are being made by unaccountable, faceless civil servants.
Where the health and education systems are being driven to paralysis, used as pawns in a wider political game.
But it’s ok. Because no matter how defective the system is the parking tickets will still be collected.
Of course I’ll pay my fine. I’ve never deliberately tried to break any law or regulation in my life.
I’ll pay it just like I pay every other household bill. On time and in full. I’ve always tried to work within the system.
Yes I’ll pay it. But I’ll be just that little bit more bitter towards the system for it.