We Have Our Limits

The Council has installed new parking machines. We must stand in line and stay in line.

The man first in the queue has a grey tinge to his skin and a small moustache cut badly at one side. I think we are all somewhat lopsided today.

The man fumbles with his card. A bleep. Words on the screen. ‘I don’t understand,’ he says. None of us understand. The words might be Japanese.

A young man, terribly tall though not quite as tall as the lampposts in the car park, offers assistance. We begin to hope. We stand in line. There are six of us now. One person takes off their face-mask. It drizzles. There is a slight chill in the air.

The line lengthens. The drizzle becomes a brief moment of sunshine. We stand in line. A few snowflakes drift down from the sky. We are dressed for July and we shiver and our teeth chatter and a woman sporting a paisley scarf checks her watch and says it’s thirteen past.

‘Thirteen past what?’ I ask.

 ‘December,’ the woman says.

 ‘What are you talking about?’ I am badly irritated now. ‘It’s April.’

 ‘Well, that’s how it is.’ The woman has strange thumbs. As if she had spent a lifetime texting on her phone.

A wind whips up a sweet wrapper. A snowflake lands on my nose.

The man’s skin is as grey as a walrus now. He’s still fiddling with the machine and speaking to the tall young man. Come to think of it the young man’s skin has turned grey too.

The snow shower retreats. We stand in line. I don’t know how many people are behind me. A wind blows up and it rains again. The raindrops hiss when they hit the asphalt. 

The grey man with the lopsided moustache gives up. He does not have his ticket. No one has a ticket. There are two people in front of me. I too decide to give up and head for home. It’s been a difficult week.

 My car is parked close to the trolleys. The car’s colour, according to the manufacturer is ‘sunshine gold.’ I doubt it was ever was gold but the metal is so rusted nothing is left of the paintwork, or even the doors. In fact little remains of the car but the seats and the steering wheel. For some reason I am not surprised. But I do wonder how I will get home.

I make a decision. I will complain to the Council. We are used to queueing in this country but we have our limits.

The home of writer Bronwen Griffiths