A parking ticket made me cry for America.

I drove an hour and a half away to pick up our dear friends from the airport. They had flown all the way from Texas to Florida to come see us. I was ecstatic! I haven’t gotten to visit Texas in a long time, times are busy and times are tough. Not to mention going through a home renovation while 7 months pregnant.

So imagine me, about 7 months pregnant driving through the city’s toll roads to get to the airport (that’s a whole different story) trying to ignore why there are toll roads in the first place with our tax money going… where again? Oh yeah… roads…schools… moving on.
Just a little recap- I’ve only been to this airport twice before to pick up and drop off my parents about a month prior to this.
So my good friend texts me that they have landed about fifteen minutes before I arrive, and so I go straight to arrivals to scan the place and see if my friends are here yet. Yes, there is a “No parking, No stopping, No standing in this area,” sign.

One more quick recap- when I went to pick up my parents a month prior, I waited for about 5 minutes and a yellow vest came up to me- and asked what flight I was waiting for. I told him which flight and he looked it up- and told me to move on and come back in fifteen minutes. He was very polite and helpful. So I moved along, driving around for a while (to avoid getting back onto the tollways) until the time had passed, then I parked and waited once more. After about twenty minutes he watched me wait. “Looks like there’s a luggage delay,” he told me. But it appeared that I wasn’t in the way so I kept waiting there. Finally after forty five minutes they had got their luggage and I waved at the yellow vested man and moved along.
Well apparently this is only Terminal B.

Back to the present. I pull up and park after another car who is also waiting. I look around and don’t see them, so I get on my phone to see if there is an update about their whereabouts and let them know where I am. I look up, and the car in front of me has pulled away and left seemingly without their guests. I look over to a yellow vest- who is on the phone and making hand gestures. I wonder if he’s motioning, but I can’t tell so I look down to the phone to check to see if they have gotten their luggage yet. Then the yellow vest approaches the driver’s window from behind, and I think “Oh, good, he can help and let me know if there’s been a delay.”

“Here’s your parking ticket.” He says.
“Wait, what?”
“Didn’t you see me waving you to move?”
“No. I didn’t know you were waving to me.”
“Well all the other cars moved.”
“You were talking on the phone, I didn’t know you were waving to me.”
“Well it doesn’t matter what I did, it matters what you did. Don’t you see the sign?”
I am amazed at this point.
“I was at the other terminal a month ago and…”
He cuts me off,
“Here’s your ticket.” I don’t take it, I move the gear to drive and stare at him in disbelief.
He then lifts up the windshield wiper and shoves it under there.
Without letting me do any more explaining or talking, he immediately leaves after placing the ticket under my windshield wiper.
“This is SO UN-AMERICAN.” I say the first thing that comes to my mind through being deeply upset, and I say this loudly out the window to him as I slowly drive away.

This yellow vested man talked on his phone and made hand gestures that could have been signaling- and could have been gestures in whatever conversation he was having on the phone. He didn’t look at my car, he didn’t make eye contact with me to move. I hadn’t been there any more than ten minutes- if that- out of the way of other cars.
He never once made eye contact with me until he had already written the ticket. “It doesn’t matter what I do?” Someone who is supposed to be upholding a strict safety standard in the airport- but not only that- someone who lives, breathes, and communicates with many, many people every day and has the power to affect many other people’s moods and experiences.

Tears start rolling down my cheeks. I just can’t believe it. Now, you could say “Oh, your 28 weeks pregnant of course you are hormonal and you cry about everything.” That is not the case, in fact… the only crazy hormonal time I had was in the first trimester. This was true, legitimate tears- I hadn’t cried since I don’t know how long before this moment.

The thing is… I was crying because as I said the first thing that came to my head, “This is so un-American.” It hurt deeply. I thought about the unborn baby I was carrying.
What does the future hold for this baby? Not just my baby, but all the babies who grow up in this country?
How can the country possibly operate in such a way? Will there be any goodness left in the world, or will there be people who don’t make eye contact with you and don’t take the time to help, explain, or communicate?

The sad thing is- I can not be friendly to the yellow vests anymore and wait for a few moments and ask them questions. This one person has made it a bad idea. How many other people has he impacted and turned their day into a bad day? How many people avoid saying a friendly hello to these people all because of this one person?

The world is not going to get better by us avoiding one another, taking advantage of one another, and not giving each other a chance to learn. It will only get worse. I went into this situation cheerfully, and I was giving this person the benefit of the doubt before I parked. I was assuming he was going to either help me, or motion me away clearly. (Which to me involves looking at someone’s car or making eye contact.)

How can I assume the best anymore in that type of situation?

It’s no wonder everyone is so hostile and avoids one another. This is just one huge example of that.

I parked elsewhere, and waited. I thought about the future of America. I cried for America.

What will the world be like when my baby arrives? How can we make this world better now? How can we let our children experience other people who are caring and communicative? How is a child to learn in this type of society where one alleged fault is punished immediately and without explanation?

How can we start smiling and making eye contact with one another, because we are brothers in humanity? Instead of assuming everyone is like this man I encountered- because there are so many of them.

How can we teach compassion, patience, and goodwill towards others when we have people like this stomping around on everybody for financial gain, or simply because of their personality.

It’s not only that- but how can we all work together as a society to improve food standards, safety, health standards, and heal the environment if we cannot even look one another in the face and communicate in the simplest form?

I was treated inhumanely. I wasn’t even worth making a gesture to? Making eye contact with? I thought about the soldiers that must come through this large airport, I thought about the wives who would be waiting impatiently for their husbands to arrive. Only to receive a parking ticket?

At that moment I was glad my child didn’t have to live in this world yet, it just isn’t good enough. I finally stopped crying and pushed it out of my thoughts momentarily. I was still very appreciative and grateful to see my friends soon.

This is SO UN-AMERICAN.

What is American then? Honoring each others struggles and triumphs. Respecting our military and our neighbors.

The law is not above is, police are not above us- they work beside us- and for us. And we appreciate that they work for us, so that our voices may be heard and our safety a highest priority.

Making eye contact when we speak to someone.

America, where we have the right to explain ourselves and the right to be heard.

Where we wave to our neighbors and it isn’t odd. We say hello and people aren’t confused. We ask how someone is, and we mean it.

The just America.

Where persecution is saved for the guilty- not shackled onto people who are trying or learning.

People shouldn’t be punished by looking for the best in others.

I decided I was going to exercise my right to take the ticket to court and defend myself, because I found this instance to be un-just. But upon further research, I found out that if I took it to court and I lost, I would waive my right to the original ticket fee, and instead pay the court costs of about $350. I don’t have that kind of money to spend, and I’m sure most American’s don’t either. So there’s the loophole, the system that is supposed to work for me and defend me and at least hear my case- squashed me before I could even explain myself.

They know that most people don’t have the time or money to fight a $30 dollar ticket, that’s how they get away with treating people like this.

So I pulled out of the airport with my friends, they told me that he was being very rude to most of the people in the airport. As I drove away stopped about 6 times on my way out of the city to pay about $7.50 to the toll workers who also don’t make eye contact, collecting the money for the roads that the taxes are supposed to pay for. The tolls already having covered more than enough the cost of the roads and maintenance- and simply profit 8 billion now instead.

Does this sound like we are free?

And if we aren’t free- we can’t even have the decency to treat each other nicely either?

So, I ask, what good is it to have rights if you can’t even use them?

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