Parking-Enforcement Officer, Huntington Beach

Illustration by Bob AulI hear so many excuses every day that it's like breathing air. The most common is “I was just getting change.” Or “I was going to pay it,” or “The meter's broke.” I guess the funniest are when they leave a note on their cars saying, “The meter's broke. Please don't give me a ticket. Come and get me on the beach—I'm the one in the green suit.” I try to come across as nicely as possible. I think it's all about your attitude. I know people think we eat our young because they think you have to be a horrible person to spend every day giving other people tickets. But really, this is the best group of people I've ever worked with. And the fact is if people would just put in their 25 cents, there's no problem. I love my job; it's really fun. Many people might argue with that because we give out tickets, but I really like it. We do a lot more than just give out tickets. This morning, I had to go to the site of an accident to help out the officers. So you're always doing something different. I've lived in Huntington Beach my whole life, and I guess from the time I was about 12 or 13, I was thinking that maybe one day I could do this. My older brother did it for about six years. He really liked it, and when I turned 18, he told me there was a part-time opening, and I applied and got it. They put you through a lot of testing before you're hired. If you're going to work part time, they put you through a physical test and a polygraph, and they do a background check that's very extensive, spans all the way back to your kindergarten teacher. Once you're hired, you're not a sworn police officer, but you work right alongside them. Your paycheck looks like a police officer's paycheck. A lot of your training has to do with working with the public. A lot of the people you deal with are agitated, and if you ignore them, sometimes that will just make the person you're giving the ticket to angrier. I try to keep a smile even when I'm hearing a lot of negative stuff, a lot of, you know, name calling. You can't let that bother you, and the great thing is that if the situation escalates, you can always call for help from the police. Yeah, it's a great job, and I was thinking that maybe I would stay here and keep doing it instead of going to college. But I've decided to go to Franciscan University in Ohio this fall. The great thing is that my boss, who's the best boss I've ever had, told me that I can work part time when I'm home on breaks. So that's great. My father was in law enforcement—he was with the FBI —so law enforcement has always been something I've been interested in. I don't know if it's something I want to do as a career. I like doing this right now. Having a job where you drive down at the beach, checking the meters—you really can't ask for anything more.

—as told to Steve Lowery

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