Meter Maid (2001)
I think these are a uniquely Australian: meter maids. They were, and still are, found on the Gold Coast, a stretch of high-rise touristy suburbia plonked on the sandy coast south of Brisbane. In August 2000, I saw two real-life meter maids in Surfers Paradise. No tiaras, I regret to report. They were wearing sun-smart white cowboy hats, less of a tan than the maid pictured here, and were resplendent in sash, gold bikinis and matching strappy sandals. Meter maids primary responsibility is to check parking meters to find those which are expired, or nearly so. Having found one, they pop a coin in the said meter so the hapless motorist will not be fined in the near future. I know this seems unlikely, but Surfers requires quite a bit of explanation itself. Apparently the system worked by promoting a charity. The maids would also slip a note about the charity they represented under the windscreen wiper of the car they saved from what we call in Melbourne, at least, the grey ghosts (the parking inspectors or inspectoresses . . . hissss!!! ) Meter maids worked for a long established company, but in recent years, I understand that another one set up in competition!
Standing by a parking meter
When I caught a glimpse of Rita
Filling in a ticket in her little white book
In a cap she looked much older
And the bag across her shoulder
Made her look a little like a military man...
--The Beatles, "Lovely Rita"
A hulking Boston bodyguard was arrested yesterday, accused of hurling a scalding Starbucks coffee at a meter maid who slapped a ticket on his illegally parked Hummer in the Back Bay. The alleged attack unfolded about 8:30 a.m. when Christi Noviello, 44, was walking her Berkeley and Boylston streets beat and saw the black Hummer parked in a loading zone with a woman in the passenger seat. "I am a nice meter maid," Noviello told the Herald yesterday in an exclusive interview. "As a courtesy, I gave the lady a chance to move, but she pointed at the Starbucks and refused."
Noviello wrote a $55 ticket, and slid it under the Hummer's windshield wiper -- apparently enraging its driver, Francois Youhanna.
"He started yelling, 'I don't accept this ticket!' He had a Venti-sized cup of black coffee in his hand, and he flung it right in my face," said Noviello, just hours after she was treated for first- and second-degree burns on her face and upper torso at New England Medical Center.
"I went down, I was panicking. It hurt so bad, I thought my face was falling off," she said. "It was in my eyes, I was screaming."
In the third reported physical assault on a Boston parking enforcement officer this year, Francois Youhanna, 37, is charged with assault with a deadly weapon by intentionally scalding 44-year-old Christi Noviello after she gave him a $55 ticket Wednesday morning for parking his black Hummer in a loading zone while he ran into a Back Bay Starbucks.
While physical assaults on meter maids have declined in recent years from a high of 42 in 2000 to 16 last year, the episode served as a reminder of the indignities the workers regularly confront, officials said. Last year, 48 parking enforcement officers reported verbal threats or harassment, said Thomas Tinlin, deputy commissioner of the Boston Transportation Department.
Noviello, a small-framed woman who appeared stunned by the parade of cameras around her, said there was no way Youhanna spilled his coffee by mistake after slipping on the ice, as he told arresting officers. "He said, 'I was only gone for a second,' " she recalled. "He walked away a little. Then he walked back, and the next thing he did was flip his coffee on me."
After the film's climax [sic], Celeste returns to work but we see a subtle shift in her character. With the struggle to establish herself as a woman and as a naughty meter maid now complete, Celeste performs her parking enforcement duties with a newfound confidence. We see her as a self-actualized woman. During the final moments of the film, though, we see one more question raised by Scott. Celeste runs across a wealthy, handsome gentleman (Bill Bonethruster) double-parked. He offers her sex in exchange for forgiving his crime, and the central question asked by the entire Naughty Meter Maids series is asked. Is there some essential chasm between being naughty and being a meter maid? Must Celeste -- and every woman in New York's Parking Enforcement Squad -- choose between the two things? Foucault was the first to analyze the phrase "naughty meter maid" as a countertext -- asking if there is a necessary dichotomy present in being both naughty and a municipal employee.