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 rotten system enables them to make money at our expense. 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. When you try to park one of these parcagii will flash out of nowhere and guide you frantically into a free parking place. Once you step out of the car, they ask you to pay for their service. If you refuse to give them any money, you will most likely end up having your car 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.
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’ve done it before and I’ve seen that this kind of attitude can shape a whole society.”
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 been part of a massive social change once. 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, who would eventually end up run down by a car.
Well, guess what! Most of us haven’t been involved in any severe car accidents and look where we are today:
23 March 2013: over 4000 bikers have met in Izvor Park to fight for their right to exist. 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. I am proud of everyone who came today, I am proud of the whole city.
This is why, dear fellow readers, every time one of those bloody parcagii tries to force me into his parking place, I call the police. Little things like this can one day turn into major social changes. Stop tolerating the misery that surrounds you!