The Drive: This parking ticket had a happy ending

  • Article by: TIM HARLOW , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 7, 2013 - 5:38 PM

Abby Michaud doesn’t like mornings. She hates Mondays. Above all, she abhors parking tickets.

So when she emerged from her St. Paul apartment on a recent Monday to find a parking ticket slapped on her windshield, it was a triple bummer.

She was already in a foul mood, and the last person she wanted to see was the parking enforcement officer who had written the citation. But just as she hopped in her car with the ticket still affixed to her windshield, there he was. He came screeching around the corner and started waving frantically to get her attention.

Michaud stopped and gave him a scowl, expecting to have an unpleasant conversation.

“I thought he was going to yell at me for moving my car without taking the ticket off,” Michaud said.

Before the officer could say a word, Michaud shouted at him and in a snarky tone informed him that she would take the ticket off the car as soon as she could repark it.

“I was annoyed, and I needed to go,” Michaud said. “I was less than polite.”

The officer, however, was no heavy-handed parking enforcer. He smiled and uttered the words that Michaud said stopped her in her tracks: “I’m sorry. There has been a mistake. I’m going to take this back.”

Michaud is no stranger to parking tickets. She has amassed her share over the years but is proud that she has endured snow emergencies without getting ticketed or towed.

As for this ticket, she arrived home late on a Sunday night and parked on Dale Street between Summit and Grand Avenues. In the darkness, she didn’t see a temporary sign banning parking from 7 to 10 a.m. June 17 because crews were going to do tree work.

Just after 8:30 a.m., Michaud walked to her car and saw the citation along with the tow-away zone sign.

The officer dutifully wrote the ticket, but moments later he returned to the scene and did the unimaginable. He rescinded it, saying the sign was incorrect and tree work was not scheduled.

That brought a smile to Michaud’s face and caused her to tweet: “I just had a parking enforcement officer chase me down, take my parking ticket back and apologize. Best Monday of my life.”

Michaud experienced the rarity of rarities. In 2012, officers in St. Paul wrote 99,796 parking violations. In just 273 cases were the tickets canceled, according to Sgt. Paul Paulos of the St. Paul Police Department.

Smiling, Michaud left to run an errand. When she returned home before 10 a.m., tree work was underway right near the sign.

Michaud hasn’t been as fortunate in the past. She recalled once running up to her car as an officer was giving her a ticket. She pleaded her case, but it fell on deaf ears. “It’s already written,” the officer told her. “They are usually just ruthless,” she added.

Michaud regrets that she didn’t get the name of the officer who spared her fine. “I want to send him a thank-you note,” she said. “He could have let this go. I will do something great with the $30 I just saved.”

Follow news about traffic and commuting at The Drive on startribune.com. Got traffic or transportation questions, or story ideas? E-mail drive@startribune.com, tweet @stribdrive or call Tim Harlow at 612-673-7768.

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