A Parking Ticket with a difference!

A friendly smiley from the Czech police ;-)

A friendly smiley from the Czech police ­čśë

In October 2008, just about a month after we had arrived in Prague, I walked past my car, parked outside our block of flats one day, to discover I had parking ticket under the windscreen wipers. This came as a complete surprise as I had assumed that it was perfectly in order to park on the access road to the flats, as many others also did. When I told my Churchwardens and Church Council members, they too were surprised as this had never happened previously.

A few days later, I went with Gerry, a Czech speaking member of the Church Council, to the local police station shown on the parking ticket. I donned clerical shirt and collar, hoping to appear the innocent foreign clergyman. According to the young police officer that we met, it is an offence under local bye-laws, to park anywhere on our estate except in the designated parking bays. Breaking this bye-law can lead to a fine of up to 2000 Kc (over ┬ú60)! However, a combination of the dog collar and Gerry’s pleading of my innocence, got the parking ticket cancelled without me having to pay anything.

Ever since then, I have always parked the car in one of parking bays marked with a ‘P’ sign, even though it has meant, on some occasions, leaving the car further away from the flat than I would like to. And in the past few weeks, the police have been around nearly every day, putting parking tickets on any car that is not parked in the correct designated place.

Yesterday morning, I went down to do my daily duty of taking all our recyclable rubbish to the appropriate bins. As I left flats, I could see the police had already been around again putting parking tickets on every car not correctly parked. But then I noticed that there was something under my windscreen wipers too. I was parked in a designated parking bay. Surely I hadn’t done anything wrong!

The note on my windscreen was from the Prague City Police – from Police Officer 26570 to be precise. But as well as the police logo, it also had a smiley on it. It was not a parking ticket but a ‘thank you note’ for parking correctly!

The Police here are not very highly regarded. Many people say that they still operate with the same mindset as they did under communism. So they have recently launched a campaign to improve their image. Issuing parking ‘thank you notes’ with smileys on them, is apparently part of this police campaign to try to get the ordinary public to like them a bit more! What I enjoy most is the wording of the last line which assures me that parking in the correct manner is ‘a responsible approach, contributing to the improvement of order in this locality’!!!!!

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