There’s a certain respect that an RPI gets, living in London.

In the commuter’s mind there are members of Transport for London who either exist to help or hinder them in their goal of reaching their destination.

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The status between a law-abiding citizen and an RPI is a simple one.

The citizen has bought a ticket, so all the RPI has to do is check and validate it. In this city, the upkeep and maintenance of our transport system is heavily reliant on fares. 40% of Transport for London’s running budget is generated from the honest travellers of the city. So it follows that citizens of London are more than happy to show their tickets and even exchange some pleasantries – it can be a surprisingly social job.

The parking attendant, however, falls into the latter camp. Although they perform a very similar job to myself, they are seen as barriers to the commuter, another nuisance that is halting them from getting to where they need to be.

I have many friends who are in this line of work. They struggle to make friends outside of the public sector, such is the prejudice against these decent men and women. They are not vindictive people, they are simply paid to walk the street checking tickets, much like I do on the trains. However, they are seen by the commuter as acting in a predatory fashion. Prowling the streets, hunting for cars that are just moments away from being illegally parked. Just aching to put a damper on someone’s day.

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It’s rare that you’ll hear a positive anecdote relating to a parking attendant. In return for the necessary work they do, they are branded with the status of a social pariah. Like ‘the taxman’ himself, they represent a faceless Government body snatching money out of the hands of ‘good, decent folk’. When all they are doing is simply apply unbending rules and regulations to this mess of a city. If these headstrong people didn’t commit to their jobs to the full extent, not only would the system start to bleed coins, but the streets would cease to function with any semblance of reason.

Human beings will always seek the easiest option. This isn’t a damning indictment on the human race, it’s simply a statement of truth. I include myself in this. We are hardwired to consume energy and then conserve it. If we can find a way to complete a task that takes up less energy, whether that’s illegally parking a car to shorten a walk, or skip paying for a train to save money for other things; if we can exploit a loophole or find a short cut, we’ll more than likely do it.

The next time you find a parking ticket taped to your car, and try stopping yourself from blaming the person who put it there. Think about the actions that you  have taken to get to where you are. Consider if you perhaps could have parked in a different place. Then think about the parking attendant, taking the challenging path and getting no thanks for it.

Next time you see an attendant, have a chat with them, they’re still people after all.