Lovely Rita Meter Maid
I’ve been collecting my thoughts on this post for since I arrived and it just all came together today so here we go. In Morocco, there are very few parking meters. They do exist on some major streets but not the side streets. So on every street there is a man. I have been keenly observing these men for months now. Here is my report.
These men all seem to work for a company. You will know the man on the street because he wears a yellow vest. At first I didn’t really put it all together because there was a lot going on when I arrived. Within about 3 weeks of getting here, we rented a car and took off on a 15 day road trip to parts hither and yon. These parking people seemingly just appeared at the window whenever we parked and some level of coinage was given. I did not realize the level of organization that exists.
I also noted much to my own amusement that these men seemingly “justified” this charge by assisting in the parking process. Every single time a car came. Standing in front or behind to wave you in to the spot and give “helpful” (?) direction on getting into the space. Much to my amusement because those who know me well know that I have an unusual skill for a perfect parallel parking job 9.9 times out of 10. A savant lets say. (Because you are reading and therefore can not argue this point right now). And you know….I once thought this would be a PERFECT job for me in Morocco because so many times I have seen people trying to park and muttered, “just get the f*ck out and let me do it”.
So in the beginning we saw a man come to the car on my street and one day he stopped to ask if we wanted to work out some sort of long term arrangement for parking. “No, no” we said, just a temporary thing. We won’t be parking here in the future. Didn’t give these guys much more thought. They can get sort of annoying sometimes. For example, we parked outside a restaurant when I was visiting a friend in Casablanca. There was parking for MILES along a deserted stretch of road. No one around to help “navigate” and as we were leaving some guy bangs on the window wanting money. For what pray tell? We drove off. He ran after calling for someone to come and chase us. Whatevs buddy.
But once I started getting into a routine, I noticed that my street is “manned” by the same fellow every day. “Ca va madame” he says every time. Huge smile. Waves. One day a friend stopped and asked about a particularly nice car out front and whether the owner might want to sell it. All this happened in Berber so I was clueless, until the next time we saw our man and he pulled a business card out of his pocket. He conveyed the message that the owner of THAT car was not selling but a similar car just up the street might be available for a good price. Call this guy on the card. Thanks bud! Now you are the parking guy, the mailman, a gossip columnist AND a seller of used cars.
Finally in one of these friendly exchanges I asked for the man’s name. Hamid. So now I walk by every day, twice a day and wave..”ca va madame” “ca va Hamid”. As my language progresses I have been able to move on to “Le bes hamdoolah” (Darija) and Azuul (Berber) and I even said “It’s hot” in Darija the other day. Or maybe I said “you should potato” Who the hell knows. He smiled.
Now let’s be clear. This guy works HARD. He does not sit down. I have never seen him idle. I can see him from my 5th floor balcony. I can see him when I pass. He only takes Sunday off. He has a little seating area set up for break time and little house for bad weather and storage. For all the people that have this monthly “arrangement” these guys are out there cleaning their cars. Every day. They get wiped down with a cloth and a bucket of soapy water. Rims, windows, the whole works. He also cleans the street. Today I came up the street and he was chopping up brush for the love of Pete. I have no idea who the old man is. Cute as a damn button though. And the tool they were using has not been sharpened since the 7th century.
So today as I was walking to work (daily language class) I passed a particularly
enterprising parking man, who has all sorts of sun screens for his customers. He kindly let me take a photo. Every car had one. Nice work buddy.
Then we ran into another fellow later on who had a little cigarette business going on the side. With a guard dog. We stopped to politely asked for a photo and he kindly agreed, and then immediately jumped out of the way. Moroccans DO N
OT like having their photos taken. Nice boy though. A young guy. He offered us some food because it is the polite thing to do and his Berber mama raised him right. Although the food he offered was his lunch sandwich that we was actively half way through and holding tightly in both hands. We declined.
So now you know all about parking in Morocco. In the cities anyway. In the rural areas its every donkey for himself.
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