I hate traffic wardens. And I really hated this one. He was standing by my car, hunched over his pad like a sweating gargoyle when I got back with my ticket.
‘I’ve only been away five minutes,’ I said.
He didn’t look up. Just scratch, scratch, scratch at his pad.
I waved my ticket. ‘Look. I’ve just been to get it. You can’t do me for this. It’s ridiculous.’
He kept on scratching, so I thrust the ticket right under his nose. ‘See?’
He lifted his head then. Looked at my ticket. Put his whole pasty paw around it, tugged it from my fingers, screwed it up and threw it on the ground.
I looked at it, and then I looked at him. ‘You’re insane,’ I said.
But he just ripped the page from his book and slapped it in my hand. ‘You’re the one who’s insane, sunshine. Here. Have a fixed penalty notice from me. ’
I was going to hit him then, right in his little blobby jobsworth’s nose. My hand was tight in a fist, like this.
But he just looked at me and you know what? His little pouchy eyes began to fill with tears and he said, ‘Go on hit me. I don’t care. I’ve been waiting to do you. Ever since you drove on to a pavement last year and killed my daughter.’
This was part of an exercise I set for my students last night, to demonstrate showing and telling, and how you could use anger to move a story along. I gave them six lines of dialogue featuring an impossible traffic warden. And then I thought this morning that it might be interesting to look at it from the traffic warden’s point of view.
Picture via Creative Commons courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheel_clamp