• Richard Scrimger

press *&%$*#


One of my more frustrating moments today, paying a parking ticket on the phone. I hate getting parking tickets. I know that they are a part of the cost of spending time in the city. But somehow the three or four times you get away with parking under the law does not make up for the time you get caught.


Anyway, I tried to pay online but the link was down so I ended up on the phone with Impark.com. If this happens to you, make sure you pour yourself a scotch or roll yourself a serious spliff first. The call begins with you giving them your credit card number (I guess they want to weed out pranksters). Then the compu-woman on the other end of the line becomes quite nasty. All she says is,


Enter the licence plate number. For letters press the star key and wait for instructions ... And she won't listen when you yell at her.


I tried. Dear Goddess I tried. The instructions after I pressed * were complex, and involved substituting 2 for E and 3 for X and so on. Somehow I kept screwing up. The compu-woman would calmly confirm my selections when I had finished, and my licence plate would end up reading something like AP24ZXBANANA99. I don't know what I did wrong, but whatever it was I kept doing it. After a half hour I felt like hanging up, but I was committed. Among other things, they had my credit card number. To speak to a representative, press the number sign, said the compu-voice. I pressed # so fast it hit twice. I'm sorry, said the voice. That's not a valid answer.

I'm sorry too, I said. Sorry you are not a real person so I could punch you in the nose.


When I calmed sufficiently (Scottish therapy helped) to press the key the right number of times, there were no attendants available. I did not want that guy with the BANANA99 licence plate to get a freebie, so I went back to the main menu and tried to pay one last time, and and finally -- finally -- finally! -- got it right. Then I hung up, and arranged some more therapy.


Hey, I read somewhere (dentist's office? friend's bathroom? someplace like that) about slang belonging to the unempowered or minority group. No such thing as majority slang. The article's example: the MINUTE white folks started to say, You go, Girl, black folks stopped. Makes sense. So maybe my (male, empowered, mainstream, ha ha no really) using Goddess instead of God means that earnest women are going to stop using it. Right? Just wondering.

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Richard Scrimger | scrimgerr@gmail.com | Toronto, ON, Canada