A meter maid or parking attendant is an official charged with issuing citations and tickets on cars that have exceeded their time limit in a space, lot, or garage. This job is a thankless one, as many people resent meter maids for enforcing laws. In public areas, meter maids typically are employed by local government or local law enforcement agencies.
The job of a meter maid is relatively simple, and usually requires a driver's license at minimum. Most meter maids use cars, bikes, or scooters to travel through their assigned area, so proficiency with various types of vehicles is important. If a meter maid spots a car parked at an expired meter or in an illegal area, he or she must cite the violation with a ticket or citation. Typically these citations require the offender to pay a fine to city or law agencies.
Meter maids may have to deal with angry or upset people as part of their daily work. Parking fines can be very high, and many people believe that they are unnecessarily punitive. Keeping a cool head and not rising to insults or anger is an important part of a meter maid's job. In some areas, meter maids may want to consider self-defense classes as a means of practical caution. While most customers will simply be irritated at their citation, violence toward parking attendants is not impossible.
It is important to remember that a meter maid is a city employee and just doing his or her job. By parking in a metered or controlled space, the car driver is agreeing to abide by rules regarding time limits, price for parking, and possible penalties. While receiving an enormous ticket for having an expired meter for two minutes is certainly infuriating, complaints should be taken to the enforcing agency, not shouted at the meter maid.
Money from parking meters and fines may be important to the civil services of towns and cities. Many small cities rely on parking fares to fund necessary services and city improvement projects. While it is tempting to think a meter maid is lining his or her pockets with the excessive fines, remember that roads are built, streets are swept, and cities are cleaned with money from the tickets meter maids give out.
In some countries, a meter maid may have additional responsibilities. In Sweden, some cities also use parking attendants to cite petty crimes such as vandalism and graffiti. Other countries give meter maids more detailed training and allow them to enforce traffic laws. Meter maids with additional responsibilities are often part of a law enforcement agency, such as the police, rather than a civil agency.