I took dinner to a friend’s house last night, and when arrived at his condo building, there wasn’t a single parking space within two blocks. So I parked illegally on the corner, knowing full well that I could get a ticket.
When I came out 90 minutes later, there it was, flapping in the wind under my windshield wiper. I drove two blocks to my house and then grabbed it off the windshield, only glancing at the total — $30.
I took a close look at the ticket this morning while waiting at a traffic light and noticed that the parking enforcement officer got one of the letters wrong in my license plate number; she typed an “H” instead of an “N.” Super, I thought, I don’t have to pay this ticket because it will never show up in the system for my car!
After settling in at my desk for the day, I had all but resolved to trash the ticket. I asked a couple of coworkers, all of whom said to pitch it. But then I remembered something from yoga class last week.
Orly Jalowski, the substitute teacher for my class, started that night with a simple tonglen meditation. She came to class with a monster headache, and several of my classmates felt as if they were coming down with something. So we used the first 10 minutes of class to meditate on the fact that our particular instances of pain were indeed ours, and that by having this specific pain right now, another being is spared from it.
I’ll admit, the first time I encountered this practice, I was baffled. But it is a time-proven way to help develop compassion and loving-kindness for all beings.
Funny, then, that my regular teacher couldn’t make class last week, and that Orly brought her headache and led us through a short tonglen meditation. Because otherwise, there’s a good chance I would have thrown this parking ticket away without realizing that another person — the person who has the “H” on their tag — would get a letter in the mail next month telling them that their fine had doubled to $60.
They would have then had to go to Traffic Adjudication Court (which is itself like walking through a Hell Realm on Earth) and make their case.
Of course I should have automatically thought about the other person, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to make the choice. It’s the best $30 I’ll spend.