then — do the opposite.

recently i was given a parking ticket from the philadelphia parking authority for an expired meter. the cost was $56. aside from the fact that $56 is an outrageous fine for having an expired parking meter, there’s this other amazing piece of information that confounds me…

on the day they assert that i was given said ticket (it was a monday), i was 280 miles away in norfolk, virginia.

that’s right. i was very nearly in north carolina.

so i immediately set out to prove my innocence in this case as you’d expect any organism with a logical brain to do. infraction at point A, while existing at point B, does not equal up to any sense at all. in plain english, it’s physically impossible for my car to have been parked at an expired meter in philadelphia while i was driving it in southern virginia. i found local ATM receipts, credit card charges at the wawa by the office, and my time card from work which says “he was in the south,” which i thought would be enough. i forgot one key thing, however…

i’m dealing with the PPA.

the PPA is such a farce, that A&E even made a reality television program out of it. they claimed that there’s no way to prove that i didn’t lend my car to someone else, who would have driven 6 hours to philadelphia, parked at a meter that either (a) was already expired, or (b) ran out of allowable time, then taken my car (and the ticket!), driven back 6 hours to virginia beach to return my car and not given me the ticket personally saying “hey, dude. i’m sorry i got this ticket.” quick recap of that: i knowingly loaned my car to someone who drove to philadelphia, got a parking ticket, and didn’t bother to tell me about it. yeah, that’s their story.

my story?

someone — probably at the end of a shift — walking the hot streets of philadelphia, was handing out a ticket to a car that was parked at an expired meter. the car had a license plate of similar number to my own. it’s entirely plausible: here in southern virginia there are plenty of JHP-#### style tags, and my HDK-#### tags are pretty common in pennsylvania. one mistake, like typing a 6 instead of a 9 into the number pad (hey, i’ve transposed 6s and 9s plenty of times before myself), or had their finger slip pressing the 1 instead of the 2 was all it could have taken to print up a ticket for the wrong person. they’re a meter maid, not the pope who we all know is infallible. so the person who was parked at that expired meter, seeing the plate number on his or her ticket is different from their own car’s plates, decides not to pay the fine — theretofore, ticket sent to me in the mail.

makes sense to me.

my saintly mother — who went to the PPA to discuss the matter for me — not accepting the PPA’s version of the story either, asked them to pull up the information on the ticket, namely the make, model, and color of the vehicle. with about 3 million people in the city of philadelphia and plenty of out-of-towners from delaware county, montgomery county, etc. coming into the city quite frequently, chances of a match are possible — but i was going to play my luck.

but you know the rule: the house always wins.

the PPA doesn’t keep information like that pertaining to the ticket itself. no. instead, i’d have had to show up in court myself to fight the ticket — driving 12 hours and 560 miles in both directions from virginia beach — in all probability to have the judge tell me the same thing (“you can’t prove your car wasn’t in the city, son”) and force me to pay the fine anyway.

moral of the story:

your business should look at everything the PPA does… in how it deals with the public, brands itself, and shows their professional integrity each day by signing up for a reality tv show series… your business should take note of all of that, then do the direct opposite.

you’ll have happy customers. you’ll have people that like doing business with you. you’ll be the model enterprise of “good business practices.” you won’t be hated by john scardino, a 25 year old male who drives a white nissan sentra, and who has never parked at a meter in his entire life — let alone an expired meter 280 miles and 6 hours away from the place at which he works.