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The Meter Man

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Life is different in the mornings; no one’s yelling at me. When I say the morning, you probably think ten or eleven AM; I think four thirty. The sun rises over the ocean by Canada Place. It’s chilly. The birds are already up and flying. It’s a peacefulness you don’t find in many places, mostly just Canada Place, at four thirty in the morning. The quiet crash of waves, the atmosphere of sleep the hasn't lifted from anyone, really, and how the air always seems a little clearer. (too many commas here so you're breaking up thoughts that aren't suppose to break)

I'm a meter man. I'm the one who makes you run in a panicked sweat out the door and down the street in a hopeless attempt to shove a quarter into the meter before I write the ticket. You know it's too late, I know it's too later and it's going to cost you even more money. All because you didn't plan properly. Poor you! If you don’t pay the meter, I make you pay more money.

It’s not a pleasant job. People yell at you, people swear at you, women cry, men get violent. There are days when I look in the mirror at four in the morning, and ask myself “Why on earth do I still do this job? Why do I get up, early in the morning, and go around, pissing people off by doing my job”

Then there are morning like this, the sky is pink, yellow, and baby blue, shrouded in sea mist. The mornings where I can escape from my job until the sun comes up and sit by the water, thinking. I think a lot, perhaps more than I should; but thinking in the quiet of mornings like this allows me to escape into the little cracks of my brain.

I think about God a lot. Sometimes I even talk to him. “God” I say “What am I doing? And if it’s what I’m supposed to be doing, am I doing it right? Am I going to heaven? Is it nicer there - than here?” Sometimes I even ask him for something. I ask God for a pretty nice girl I can fall in love with me. So far he hasn’t answered my prayer.

My thoughts evaporate like the morning sea mist, suddenly I am at work and I'm jolted back to the reality of my life. “Hey!” A man will shout coming out of the building “What are you doing? I was just about to put change in that!” I shake my head “Sir, you were late and I’ve already printed the ticket. Sorry, if I don’t give you a ticket, I could get fired” Sometimes they get aggressive, whether they do or don’t, I just put the ticket on their wiper and walk away.

I think about my past a lot. About school and the kids who thought I was strange. About high school and the friends I made there. About the parties they wanted me to come to and the people at the parties. If I hadn’t gone to those parties, maybe I wouldn’t be a meter man. I think about the child I’ll never meet. I think about the girl at that party who took my virginity. I didn’t take hers. I was going to be a dad. She graduated before the kid was born. I never saw her again.

My thoughts are interrupted. A woman comes running up the sidewalk, squealing “no, no, no, no” her eyes were going from looking at me, to searching for coins in her purse. “I have change! Please, please please!” I shook my head and said what I said every time “you were late and I’ve already printed the ticket. Sorry, if I don’t give you a ticket, I could get fired”

“But I’m so short on money already! I can’t afford this” she began to whimper with tears forming in her eyes. Chances were, they were fake tears. I question how people can make themselves cry. Time and hassle and money tend to be the right mix and voila the tears appear.

I think about my future a lot. I’m forty three years old; fifty’s not to far off. Seven years is a short amount of time. I’ll be old before I know it. Whenever I think about being old, I think about being dead. I start feeling sort of sick. I get scared. We don’t know what’ll happen on the other side of that big black void. Where will I go? Will I go anywhere? Will I understand what’s happening? Will there be nothing left to understand? Will I die alone? That pretty, nice girl -who pops up in my dreams from time to time- is getting further and further away, everyday that I get older. Maybe I’ll be alone in my little one person apartment. Maybe it will always be a one person apartment, ‘till after the day I cross the void, leaving nothing but my Job and left over savings behind.

I wish someone would interrupt my thoughts. They never do when I want them to.

“Oh shoot! You got me” she said, snatching my attention from the recesses of my head. She smiled “So how much will it cost me?” She wasn’t yelling at me. Maybe, if I was lucky, it was her.



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