Zen and the Art of the Parking Ticket

9 Jan

Parking meter.

It is sort of a thing in Charleston, parking tickets: a ubiquitous visitor to anyone who ventures downtown, tourist and local alike.  Those “ticketers” are GOOD at their job, and I have always paid the ones I deserved:  the forgotten meter time, not really a spot ticket, oops, I thought it was Sunday ticket (free all day Sunday).

But this time, I had a case.   I read the back of the ticket and figured out I could squeeze by the DMV Appeal Hours between dropping Chloe off for dance and picking up Eden…yada yada.

Forgive the tedious details…I want to get to the main point, which is a Zen Master at the DMV…I swear it is true.

I rode the elevator up with a woman, after showing her where to go.    She was in a huff, “I lived in NYC for 15 years and never got a ticket.  I’m here one week, one week!”

The appeals ended this particular day at 6 pm and she and I sweated our tight arrival together, arriving at 5:56 pm.  I thought they would say, too late.  But in we go…there are 4 of us there.

The women behind the glass make it clear that all they need is to get our names and info on the list – we are to wait to talk to The Man. I wish I could remember his name.

I am last on the list.  After sitting a few minutes,  a slow moving, large, authoritative black man emerges from his office.   He owns his space and does not show his cards.   He calls names out one by one and in each one goes.   In quick succession, the first  two offenders are quickly dismissed out of his door with polite “thank you’s and have a good night” and grins.  “You too” he calls after them.

My compadre from the elevator is before me and she gives me a grin and a thumbs up as she heads out the door.

Once I’m seated across from him in his office, surface conversation ensues, totally unrelated to the ticket, but it is his BEINGNESS that is radiating out from him no matter the words.  He is fully present with me and he knows what he is to do with purpose and grace.  How often do we experience this in others?    He is here to diffuse, to accept, to excuse…everything about him radiates peace – AT THE DMV – AT THE TICKET APPEALS OFFICE – really?

So I tell him my story, and he nods and says, “I know that parking lot, very old, you can hardly see the lines…of course you are right.  No problem.  Have a nice night Ms. T.”  I get the feeling that we are absolutely bowing to each other in mutual kindness, respect, love.

I know I am drawing out a story that is small and personal.  But I think, more and more we are all having these experiences when we are present to the moment, honoring the flow, saying “Yes, and…” to life.

I read a book years ago called Breakfast at the Victory by James Carse –  a philosophy professor at NYU.  In the title story, he illustrates a master (much like my parking ticket appeals officer)  shining through the owner of the diner he frequented every morning on his way to work.  Every move of pouring coffee, idle converstion with customers, wiping the counters was pure, radiating beingness.  If we are observing, we know IT when we see IT- and we are drawn to IT because these beings, workers,  masters in our midst are mirroring our true being back to us.

We are becoming masters of our own beingness.  The way an animal in nature inhabits its grace, beauty, perfection without resistance, we humans are remembering how to be.


11 Responses to “Zen and the Art of the Parking Ticket”

  1. Leisa January 9, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

    I agree..more and more I am witnessing being “present” and witnessing that in others! Beautiful story, thanks for sharing..we need more stories like that

    • marga t. January 9, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

      Thanks Leisa, This way of being has always made so much more sense compared to the difficult struggle. Hopefully like a clog moving in the drain, we are seeing the new flow…

      • Leisa January 9, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

        I think its exactly like that, and I think its important to hold the energy of love because at times things around us can appear to be quite chaotic

  2. heartflow2013 January 9, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

    Very cool story – AND – Breakfast at the Victory by James Carse is one of my all-time favorites! I excerpted quite a bit of it into my notebook… Love It!
    Cheers! and Happy Zen Parking!

    • marga t. January 10, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

      Thank you, Tomas. I’ve just realized how much that simple-seeming book penetrated and stuck with me all these years. So cool you loved it too!
      Happy heart flow to you 🙂

  3. smallpebbles January 10, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    Lovely……being-ness recognizing ITSELF……..in the form of other…….YES! And just when we are ready for the growl, love shows its face. Beautiful! in peace….

    • marga t. January 10, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

      I love the way you’ve put these words together here. Connecting to the blog post above, but fresh take through your lens!

  4. 1EarthUnited January 11, 2013 at 7:46 am #

    Simply glorious! Beingness never expires on the metered rhythm of existence.

    • marga t. January 11, 2013 at 10:22 am #

      That is gorgeous, no expiration 🙂
      Where did your blog go? With the start of school, I wasn’t able to explore old posts like I wanted…So nice to know you aren’t disappeared! 🙂

      • 1EarthUnited January 11, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

        Hi Marga, bummer but my blog was suspended by WP without explanation. I’m trying to work it out with their staff to get it restored asap. I’ll keep everyone appraised via Twitter. Just click on my Gravatar. Best wishes with school! 😀

      • marga t. January 16, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

        Still not back? Hope this works out soon. I’m not on Twitter, but I will keep on checking. Happy flow, Maddy!

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