The meter maid, or parking enforcement officer, holds some type of psychopathic tendency for which a special curbside spot is reserved in purgatory. Vice cops, the Boise River patrol and a host of other party-pooper types share this psychological debility. But BW's own parking cop, Julie Kane, is hard to despise. She rides by the office several times a day in her three-wheel cart, cheerful as can be.
Kane moved to Boise from Southern California, where she claims to have never gotten a ticket. She is of unknown age, like many former flight attendants, and will only say she is "over the age of consent." Kane says she got into parking enforcement about five years ago but it was just a fluke. And she can't understand why people don't just follow the rules.
Do you feel like a cop?
Well, not really, although we kind of work hand in hand with the police officers. It's kind of hard to say that we're cops, but we do enforce the law.
People obviously get mad at you on a daily basis.
I'm sure there are plenty of people that are angry with me on a daily basis. I don't always hear from them. I don't always get any visual contact with them.
How do you respond?
As pleasantly as I can. Sometimes I wave, sometimes I smile. I'm just doing my job, you know. It's unfortunate that some people take the attitude that I've done something wrong when they have parked illegally. So they get mad at me because they made a mistake.
Why not push the 20 minute button?
They've already had that opportunity. The 20 minutes was initially given to the citizens of Boise for the reason of going to get change, but it's abused constantly and I wish it wasn't there at all.
Can you cite someone for pushing the button again?
Yes, that's called re-feeding the meter and, right on the meter, on each and every meter in town, it says in two different places, "thou shalt not re-feed the meter."
Are you armed?
No, I'm not. Sometimes I'd like to be.
Do some parking officers carry weapons?
No, they're not supposed to. They do in some cities, but that hasn't happened here yet and I think I'll retire when it does.
Have you ever had any physical confrontations?
No, I've never had any physical confrontations, but I've had some really unpleasant ones where people get ridiculous over a $12 ticket and they go berserk. I just kind of feel sorry for them.
What's the worst infraction?
I think everyone would agree with me it's somebody who is not disabled taking a handicapped space.
What's the most frequent violation?
Expired meters, but the most common outside the meters is the time zone infraction. As far as hazard tickets are concerned, I would say probably too close to a stop sign. A lot of people are unaware that there is a 30 foot requirement. It tells you in your driver's manual, which we assume that you go home and read every night. That was started years ago because of the trucks covering the stop sign to oncoming traffic and they can't see a stop sign and then bam. It's legitimate. There's a good reason for it.
What did you see today?
People going about their business, but sometimes in a funny fashion. I get a kick out of watching them because they don't usually know I'm looking. It's entertaining because I'm dealing with people and people's habits, you might say. They all do different things, and they all have different reasons, and they all have a million excuses, but that makes my day so diversified.
What excuses do you hear?
"I blew it. I forgot."
That's not really an excuse.
"I had a meeting, it lasted too long, they wouldn't let me go."
That's what happened to me yesterday. Any excuses that have won you over?
Sure, there are mitigating factors sometimes, but for the most part, most people who are in town and work here are very familiar with how things work and what they're supposed to do and what they're not supposed to do.
Do you have parking experience in other cities?
I came here from Southern California ... I was in interior design then. I've never had a ticket. I've never had any tickets.
I have a lot.
Do you? That's too bad. After the first or second one, doesn't something click over that says, "aaarrrr, I've been in trouble for this before?" It's a matter of priorities and if your top priority is to not get tickets, you won't get tickets.
What do you do after work?
I go home and I turn on the television and listen to national news. I have pets. I have a German shorthair that I adopted from the humane society and I have two cats and I have a house in the North End. Gardening and all of that kind of stuff.
Are you just trying to make money for the city?
A revenuer? Oh yes. I'm called a revenuer and things like that. Every city has parking enforcement and there's good reason for it, and all of the things you enjoy and see in this particular city, like our flower pots and how beautiful the town is and how clean the town is.
Do you ever ticket your friends?
I have, not knowing, but that wouldn't make any difference because I would have to ticket them anyway.
Do people challenge the tickets?
Some of them do. We started taking pictures a year and half ago, so on the larger hazard tickets, I take pictures of the car in the position where it is, showing the sign or whatever it is.
Do you always win in court?
Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time, yes. If you do something here and a picture is taken that shows your infraction, don't waste your money. When it comes to meter tickets, there are very few people that challenge it. After all, if it says zero, it says zero. That's what it is. But no more, because I put on the ticket, "photos available."