'I've heard it all': Confessions of a veteran parking warden


He was called a "f***wit" and told to "get a real f***ing job'"almost every day of his nine-year long career as a council parking warden.

"Occasionally it gets to you, but given enough time you get over it."

A former parking wardens claims some motorist forge their parking tickets.

There were other encounters that wardens tended to share with each other after a day of enforcing the parking rules.

One of his highlights was a woman telling him "you can't ticket me, it's a BMW".

He ticketed mayors, councillors, and even advised actor Sir Anthony Hopkins not to feed the meter because the wardens were about to clock off.

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While chalking a vehicles' tyre, the motorist was spotted flipping through a stack of old tickets trying to find one to match the corresponding day.

He also encountered forged parking receipts, particularly in the student area.

And as for those motorists who simply rubbed out any chalked marks: "it was annoying, but just part of the job".

Smith said there was no quota, but there was an "expectation" to write 30 tickets a day.

Tickets ranged from a standard $12 to a hefty $600 - "but that is for a very rare occasion, and I have written one of them".

Smith was "pretty light in his ticket writing numbers", and said he believed 72 was the most he issued in a day.

He never enjoyed writing tickets, but "loved the times I got to help people".

That included reassuring a mum with an injured child that her car parked outside Dunedin Hospital would not be ticketed. 

Once, he flagged down a motorist whose car was on fire.

Smith recalled clearing - in his own time - items stuffed into parking meter coin slots, rather than deal with irate customers throughout the day.

"You don't get any thanks for those types of things."

Wardens would average around seven of the eight hour day on a motorbike, he said.

And after nearly a decade in the job he'd simply had enough.

A year ago, a woman threatened to kill him and "tried to follow through with her car".

It was not reported by the council to police. Smith said newly issued body cameras "failed miserably" due to battery life.

The camera also failed to capture an incident when he was poked in the chest.

After such incidents parking wardens had to "pre-warn" management, he said.

He soon found himself attending "well-being" meetings, which he believed were disguised disciplinary matters, he said.

In a statement, a council spokesperson said the council had been through "multiple processes with Neil and investigated issues raised by him.

"We are satisfied there are no concerns to be addressed or respond to.

"On principle we are bound not to discuss the private employment matters of our staff in the media."  

Whatever the case, Smith left a job that took its toll on him.

One of the last incidents saw him almost run over: he said to the driver "what the  f*** do you think you are doing?"

Parking wardens also worked on extremely hot or wet days, and he suffered a sprained back after sliding the bike in wet conditions.

Taking a week off work, he realised he was done in the job.

Smith, who wears a t-shirt saying 'When I grow up I want to be a parking warden: Yeah Right', said he wanted people to think of wardens as people with the "highest integrity".

"There's a lot of prejudice against parking wardens, it has to stop."

 - Stuff