Sunday, 11 January 2015

Traffic Wardens

One of the things that Christians like to talk about is encouragement. They wrap it up in a sort of 'sheet of dogma' as a prophetic virtue bestowed by the Holy Spirit to build people up, which is indeed the purpose of the charisms (according to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12). It is a natural virtue which is found in people of goodwill regardless of their status as follower of the Lord Jesus or not; yet grace builds on nature so the work of the Spirit could well be concealed in such natural virtues. This reminds me of CS Lewis warning against comparing a certain Christian with a certain non-Christian to assess if Christianity makes that person better or worse in these natural virtues since the Christian could be a whole lot worse without while the non believer could be a whole lot better within. To be clear, dear reader, we (this is Mr Fenn using the royal we to make the blog seem more eminent) do find encouragement to be a noble duty of the Christian, and certainly the Gospel calls us to draw out the good in our neighbour - to see with the loving eyes of God himself. It is prophetic to see through our pride and see clearly all that the other is worth to the creator of all that is. As it happens, there are even a number (three to be precise) of occasions where we have regretted not pointing out the niceties of conduct. One is relating to the cleanliness of the streets of a certain village in Norfolk but as time passed on the time for writing such a letter seems to have passed. The other I have noticed before, but still not acting on.

It's the traffic wardens of Yeovil. See, they have the challenging job of issuing tickets to fouling parkers. They do provide a service by keeping the 15/30 minute bays available for those quick visits to the bank and the loading bays available for shop deliveries. But what I notice as a pedestrian by-passer is the willingness to have a conversation with motorists about the parking rules (e.g. where to move the car to restart the clock) or why a parking ticket was issued. They listen and are sympathetic. There is respect there. And people seem calm about it all - I'm sure not everyone is though! I saw a woman in a loading bay who had been unloading but overstayed the limit, and although the attendant had just printed the ticket so was unable to cancel it, they talked about it and he was explaining the appeals system before she drove away. Not to mention that the fines are reasonable too which helps. On the other hand, in Edinburgh there is an army of wardens out looking to capture as many motorists as they can.

It is just nice to see something of a society functioning within realms of politeness and mutual respect.  

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