“The Grey Ghost”

By Geisha Bar

Here’s a thought experiment: if you were to write a list of all the jobs you could think of and then arrange them into a sort of pyramid shape based on respect, you’d probably find that even the bottom layer –  let’s assume that this layer is mostly comprised of sewage technicians – performs a useful service, and is deserving of at least a small chunk of your respect (so long as you don’t have to hang out with them at any point in the near future). Once this hypothetical diagram was laid out in front of you and you had arranged all the types of employment into nice little piles, your peace of mind might suddenly be interrupted when you realise that you’d forgotten that one, very special little vocation that people don’t like to talk about. The one subset of work that’s never ever had any respect, because essentially everyone sees it as exploitative, condescending, and at its worst, a demonstration of the inherent flaws of the capitalist system. But before you get the wrong idea here – I’m not talking about advertising. I’m talking about parking inspectors.

There seems to be a general trend of thought that directs unmitigated hatred towards parking inspectors – and why not? They’re the running dogs for faceless companies that exploit the worst aspects of land tenure,  making you chew out $12 an hour just for the ‘privilege’ of parking half-an-hour away from the CBD. It’s easy to hate them – but shouldn’t that make us suspicious? Is it worth playing devil’s advocate for such a routinely despised group of people?

Consider this: the lives of parking inspectors are pretty bad. These guys go around every day, in sweltering heat or downpour, with saliva and profanity being launched at them from anyone with a working mouth, constantly questioning themselves internally about how they managed to become parking inspectors in the first place – “where did it all go wrong?” – and now, to make things even better, a guy with delusions of being a superhero is running around Perth slicing open their wheel clamps. Should we feel sorry or not?

This all leads to that really difficult argument: is it fair to despise people who are supposedly just doing their jobs? It’s never really appropriate to cite Godwin’s law – although anyone who’s ever been hit with a $150 fine probably won’t hesitate to label such a penalty as quasi-fascistic – but soldiers who commit wartime atrocities in the name of whatever country you might like to cite are just doing their ‘jobs’, too, so employing the Nuremberg defence kind of makes any argument’s legitimacy goes out the window, unless you think favourably comparing a parking inspector to Herman Goering is somehow going to further your cause (it probably won’t).

What I’m getting at here is that if someone argues that parking inspectors are just doing their jobs, well – you could simplify things down to an idiotic level and say “…but so were nazi war criminals!” – or you could  resist this temptation and instead say: “Nobody is holding a gun to their head and forcing them to be parking inspectors. It is completely their own fault that they have become parking inspectors, rather than anything else – they could have gone to clown college, they could have started their own religion, but they didn’t. They chose to be assholes, and that is why I do not respect them. Also I hope that guy keeps ruining their vehicle clamps.”

So, in conclusion, parking inspectors probably aren’t very nice people.