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In this file photo, a Toronto parking enforcement officer writes a parking ticket on Baldwin Ave. in Toronto's Kensington Market. Photo by Louie Palu/The Globe and Mail (Louie Palu/Louie Palu/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
In this file photo, a Toronto parking enforcement officer writes a parking ticket on Baldwin Ave. in Toronto's Kensington Market. Photo by Louie Palu/The Globe and Mail (Louie Palu/Louie Palu/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

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Curb your enthusiasm for this deadbeat girlfriend Add to ...

I treat my girlfriend well. We have a good relationship. The problem is she racks up parking tickets in my car. When she gets one she doesn't mention it, nor does she pay it. Is it reasonable for me to rethink this relationship? How do I deal with this deadbeat girlfriend?

What could your girlfriend possibly be doing for you that is so special you will endure this disrespectful treatment? She must be smoking hot, or a great cook. Maybe she's daft, or just plain mean. If you really enjoy paying for abuse, there are professional services for that.

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Remind her of the old proverb: don't do the crime if you can't do the time. If you have outstanding tickets and an enforcement officer pulls you over, your vehicle can be impounded. Parking fines generally double after thirty days, depending on where you live. If you continue to evade the fine you'll receive a reminder notice in the mail. Next comes a knock on your door, with a summons and the opportunity for a date - to appear in court.

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City officials say parking tickets encourage the turnover of vehicles in areas where there is a demand for short-term parking. One doesn't have to watch the Delicate Art of Parking to understand the subtle relationship between ticket writers and tow truck drivers. These private companies operate as a monopoly. The city grants their business licences, and we all pay the price.

Parking tickets are a necessity. You can't have someone park all day in front of a business that relies on a constant flow of customers. Further, the city couldn't possibly raise enough money from parking meters to provide compensation for meter readers and ticket writers. What would we do without that revenue stream? Think of all the wonderful amenities a city has to offer. Without taxation, there wouldn't be parks to walk our dogs in, signs telling us to scoop up after the dogs, street sweepers, graffiti removal, public pools, garbage collection, and homeless shelters. Not to mention this funding provides much needed public programs, art galleries, daycares, the mayor and the counsellors' salaries, summer student job creation projects, maintenance and upkeep of cemeteries, running water, electricity, sewage treatment, and public toilets.

A helpful employee at the City of Vancouver recently told me that those who can't afford the full ticket amount can make instalment payments. Self-serving, don't you think? One retired traffic court judge says: always dispute your tickets. You can drag the paperwork out for months, if not years. Or, if you're willing to put in a small amount of time, dress respectfully, and discuss your version of the situation before a judge, you might even eliminate the need to pay.

A few years ago I received two tickets on the same day. The first one was the result of a defective meter. I immediately drove to City Hall to dispute it. After a long wait at the counter, I arrived at my car the minute the meter was expiring. The prewritten ticket also landed on my windshield at that moment. Halfway through explaining my situation, the meter maid abruptly told me I could try disputing this ticket, too. I'm ashamed to admit that to avoid further hassle, I ended up paying both tickets. Every motorist knows parking fines are a shameless bureaucratic cash grab, yet strangely we endure this kind of abuse without so much as a peaceful protest.

Back to you, and your situation. Where was your spine the first time this happened? Many relationship problems are caused by allowing things to escalate. If you bring small issues to the forefront right away they're often easily diffused. If you let them fester, they can become a big deal - and even relationship-enders. If you casually mentioned to your girlfriend from the onset that you didn't appreciate paying her ticket, and she became upset, you could have done each other a favour and ended it there. Then perhaps she could find someone who tolerates her behaviour, and you could find someone that shares your values.

Try treating her with the respect she deserves. Start sticking her with a few things: borrow coffee money from her purse, help yourself to her booze, and leave dirty laundry on her bedroom floor. Or dump her.

Did I mention dump her? I believe I did.

Tell us your top five driving tunes and let the debate begin . . .


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