Park Place, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Marilinda
This just in! After living in Philadelphia or its environs for the greater part of the last decade, I am thrilled to say that I have had my first ever positive experience with a city governmental agency. And to boot, it’s the Philadelphia Parking Authority. (Yay, puns!) I am as shocked as you are.
It all started because I moved to a different part of town to a sweet little house nowhere near the garage where I used to park my hoopty. In case you’re keeping track, this is the car that had been running on 2 cylinders and had a melted ignition coil. This is the car that I was too inept to understand that something was way wrong even though it wouldn’t drive uphill for 6 months or so. Oops. It was time to move the car to the streets, outside of the garage where many Nigerians dreaded the sight of me. Mohammed (Momo), God love him, and his crew would have to move my car for me, jump it when the battery died and accept my late payment every single month. Love you, Momo!
As an aside, he would call around midmonth, every month, and say, “Is this the Zachary? This is Mohammed. Do you know why I call you? I call because you are late with payment. I don’t know why you forget, but you do. I am not mad.” And I think it’s true. If he did get mad, he never showed it. Would that we all had the patience of Momo.
So, I had an hour to get a parking permit for my car and get back to work. Chances of this happening were slim to none. And Slim just left town. I cabbed my ass over to near 30th Street Station to the Parking Authority Headquarters. My cab was driven by a pleasant man named Mohammed. For real, am I in the wrong religion, or what? Granted, he almost killed us twice, but he had a way of prioritizing efficiency that made my heart beat a little faster than usual on a Monday.
I enter a pleasant little office that looked more like a Doctor’s office than a bureaucratic claptrap. I was immediately waited on. There was no queue! (This is the word I use for “line” now that I am a Netflix user.) Her name was Marilinda. Ok, it wasn’t. I made that up because I never got her name, but trust me: she was totally a Marilinda. She was a squat little Latina, as wide as she was tall. She might have been my age or 50; she was ageless. Her plump head was home to a crazy mole on her left cheek and hair slicked back into a ponytail.
“Whatchu want?” she scowled. “I need a parking permit,” I cowered. We were going to make this happen. I was totally her bitch.
“You got 2 tickets outstanding” “I know, sorry.” “Don’t sorry me; pay them now.”
And then I did!
Blah blah, red tape, blah for about 10 minutes. She bossed me around, raised her voice when I got out of line, sneered when I got confused, but then we were done. At the end of our hasty interaction, while I was signing paperwork, she tapped her long press-on fingernail to the counter then brought it up to her eyes, and said, “Pay attention. I am still talkin’ to ya.”
And then I did!
She was forceful, efficient and not at all elegant about it. Marilinda was my kind of woman. I would have bottomed for her right there. Or not. I don’t know; I was very caught up in the moment. (note: Kidding. I would only bottom for Nancy Pelosi.)
I do a lot of bitching about Philadelphia here, but this was so quick and easy that I have to give credit where credit is due. Congrats, Philadelphia! And thank you!
Marilinda for Mayor!!!