November 01, 2000
I had occasion to park in a downtown, underground garage today. It is in a central location so it sees a fair amount of business. Upon arriving at the gargare I punched the button and got my time-stamped ticket. Its a small affair, not quite the size of a business card.
When I was finished with my errands and lunch I returned to my car and proceeded to the exit booth. While the car in front of my completed their transaction I momentarily placed the ticket between my lips while I fished my wallet out of my pants pocket. It was only between my lips for 10 or 12 seconds, and it wasn't really in my mouth, just between my lips.
When I pulled up to the gate and held my ticket out the man in the booth physically backed away from it, as if I'd offered him a live asp. As I continued to hold my ticket out he was looking around his booth for some thing. Finally he picked up his sweatshirt and gingerly reached for the ticket with his hand encased in the material of his pullover. I couldn't believe it. Once he had the ticket he proceeded to vigorously rub it between the folds of his pullover for 20 or 30 seconds; all the while challenging me to say something with his stare.
Finally, when I didn't rise to his bait he fished the ticket out of his makeshift set of gloves using only his fingernails on the smallest possible corner of the ticket.
I was thrilled to be able to pay him with the slightly damp paper money I'd gotten in change at my lunch a few minutes earlier. Oddly enough he didn't treat the money as a toxic waste. I guess money is safe from germs, I mean, its only in and out of pockets all day. Whereas my parking ticket had touched my lips for the briefest moment and now was a carrier of who knows what plague.