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October, 2019

A dull chugging sound fills the humid morning air, drowning out whizzing traffic and playing children. The source—a large vehicle—turns the corner sharply, hugging the wrong side of a residential road.

There’s a car up ahead of it, pointed in the right direction, and the two find themselves in an admittedly slow game of chicken. Who will blink? Who will turn first? The larger vehicle nears the smaller before suddenly turning wide. Of course it did. It’s a street sweeper, and its momentary opponent is parked, without a driver. 

The sweeper scrubs a clear mark of shame around the parked car as it arcs back to the curb. Up ahead, the driver performs an identical maneuver, dodging a second parked car. Because there is no justice in the world, neither car has a ticket. Everyone else has followed the rules: You need only look across the street to see the proof. That side, the one that gets swept tomorrow, is jam-packed with parked cars.

Further ahead, a young man rushes to his car—in the street sweeper’s eventual path—and is relieved to find his vehicle unticketed. He’s a few minutes late, but he got lucky. He drives off as the sweeper turns to loop around. When it returns, a police car drives in front of it. But the cop car doesn’t stop as it passes the offending vehicles, and continues on its way.

Eventually, a white car pulls up behind one of the parked cars, its hazard lights on. Parking enforcement has arrived. A woman gets out of the car and sighs, the sword of justice in her hand.

Will Warren writes Scene and Heard. If you know of a location worthy of being seen or heard, email him at wwarren@washingtoncitypaper.com.