Today I had lunch with a couple of colleagues, aspiring entrepreneurs, from the business workshops organized by FPP. During all of our talks, we obviously came to debate over more delicate matters, such as corruption. Ah, yes! How Romanians love to discuss matters such as injustice and corruption, unfortunately very few consider taking any action against it. To be more specific, this afternoon we came to talk about the well known “parcagii” and how the so called ‘rotten system’ enables them to make money at the expense of others. Let me tell you a little bit about their “work”. Parcagii are the people who watch over free public parking places, frankly, they are everywhere. The second you put your eyes on a parking space one of these parcagii will flash out of nowhere and guide you frantically into positioning your car in the right position. Once you step out of the car, they ask you to pay for their service. If you refuse, you will most likely end up having some door scratched, your tires flat or, in worst case scenarios, with one of your windows broken (maybe even with stuff from your car missing). Sometimes the parcagii can become quite aggressive and ask you to get the hell out of their parking place. This is their job.
As we started to discuss the issue of parcagii today, here’s what I told my colleagues:
“The police may be corrupt. The streets my be corrupt. Nevertheless, every time I see one of these annoying parcagii, I report them to the police. I just stop, make the two minute call and ask for a police crew to come and arrest them.”
My colleagues laughed. According to them, I am completely crazy and silly, as my actions won’t change a thing in this very messed up country.
“False”, I said. “Most policemen may be corrupt, my hope is that out of every 10 phone calls I make, at least one will be answered by good cops, who will eventually come and beat the shit out of those lazy parcagii. You may think this is naive, but I just like to believe that this kind of attitude can make a difference.”
My colleagues laughed again, this time louder.
I haven’t continued the conversation, but here’s what I think on this matter: my own actions (and your own actions as well!) do have a big impact on social habits. I know it, because I’ve seen it happen before. When I was about 16-17 old, Ariel invited me to an obscure event called “bikewalk”, where a group of people were supposed to meet and do a small bike trip, aiming to promote the bicycle as an alternative to cars and public transport. You can read the whole story here. At that time, the world saw us as naive fools, teenagers, who would eventually end up run down by a car.
Well, guess what happened a few months later!
23 March 2013: over 4000 bikers have met in Izvor Park to fight for their right to be recognized as a part of traffic. There aren’t any real bike lanes in Bucharest, our mayor has ignored this issue so far, arguing that you don’t need to build bike lanes in a city where nobody rides a bike. Well, today we have proven the contrary. There are lots of two wheelers in this town!
This is why, dear fellow readers, every time one of those bloody parcagii tries to force me into ‘his’ parking spot, I call the police. Maybe nothing will ever happen. Or who knows…