Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stressor of the Day - Promise House Style

So......I'm sitting at my desk today and see two police cars in front of our building. They were side by side blocking the street, and it looked like they were just chatting with each other.....UNTIL....I see one of the officers get out of her car and walk toward a white van that was parked incorrectly in front of our building. As she started writing the ticket, I jumped up from my desk, ran down the hall to the lobby, asked whose van it was, found out it belonged to a parent who was bringing her son here for help, told her she was getting a ticket, and ran outside to see if I could stop them from writing it. The mother ran out with me, but we were too late.

The police cars had pulled away. I took the ticket from the windshield--$45.00!! I thought the woman was going to faint. Her son came out with her, and she started talking to him in a foreign language. I couldn't understand the language, but I could certainly understand the tone. She was VERY angry. When I asked her what she said, she told me that she told him it was his fault that she got the ticket, because if she hadn't needed to bring him here, none of this would have happened!

NOW......before you judge this woman harshly for what she said to her son, try to remember the amount of stress she is under and what additional stress was added by this $45.00 ticket. She can't pay that ticket! And if she doesn't pay it in 30 days, the amount doubles, and then if she doesn't pay that, they issue a warrant for her arrest. Just what she needs. I did, however, say that maybe she shouldn't go so far as to say the ticket per se was her son's fault. She agreed and iterated what I already knew.....this was one more stressor she did not need.

About this time, the two police cars had stopped up the block at the stop sign. We ran up to the corner and asked if they could reverse the ticket, since she and her son were clients of Promise House and had NO money and didn't know where to park or that parking that way was illegal.
Nope. The officer said they can't "undo" tickets once they've been written, but she could call the number on the back of the ticket, give them the circumstances and see if they would dismiss it. I encouraged her to do so and to have the police call me if they needed verification of the story.

This very frustrating story is a perfect metaphor for what our families go through every day. One barrier after another, never enough money, or time, or food, or clothing, or resources to fix what to most of us would have been a minor inconvenience.

Which is exactly why I jumped up and ran outside to try and stop the police. I KNOW what this will do to this mother, her relationship with her son, and the incredible stress it will put on her financially.
I just really hope she calls that number on the back of the ticket and that whoever she talks with that day is feeling compassionate, or that they will at least call me. Keep your fingers crossed.

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