"Today was pretty light," said Stance C. Nance, pocketing his ticket book. "Our supervisors wanted us to go light. Since this was the first day they didn't want everybody going crazy."
So how many parking tickets had Nance, 23, issued at the end of his first day as one of the city's 44 new civilian parking control aides? 60.
The new civilian team, dressed in slate blue uniforms and white caps, took to Washington streets yesterday as the city launched phase one of a three-step program to expand parking law enforcement and net $14 million in additional fines. D.C. police officers will continue to issue parking tickets even with the new program.
Phases two and three, towing and booting of cars with more than four warrants for unpaid parking tickets, will begin in January, according to D.C Departments of Transportation officials.
The civilian teams, major job will be enforcing the city's residential parking permit program, aimed at keeping commuters off residential streets. But yesterday Peter J. Hairston, chief of the new ticket writing branch assigned the whole team downtown.
Throughout the warm, lazy day, Nance and his colleagues encountered few problems as they affixed dirty orange-colored tickets, to the windshields of cars whose drivers had parked in front of fire hydrants and other no-parking zones, let parking meters run out, or double-parked.
"I put 20 cents in it (parking meter) and it ran out," complained Ron Haskins of Hyattsville, to Millicent. Neal, 22, one of the new parking aides. Haskins was attempting to talk his way out of the ticket. Neal had just slipped under the windshield of his car at 10th and G streets NW.
"Could you make it $2.50" Haskins asked hopefully. "It's $5 or my job," she replied with a smile, and handed him her 40th ticket of the day.
At 20th and L streets NW, Jim L. Hahn, 38, had written 40 tickets by noon - after four hours of duty.
"Some people tried to talk their way out of it," he said. "They took them but they said they could not read the sign. I'd do the same thing. I'd argue too."
But before the parking monitors donned their two-piece uniforms, with a "P" engraved in the center of their silver-colored button, and blue and yellow arm patches reading "District of Columbia, Department of Transportation, Parking Enforcement," they had been expressly ordered not to argue.
"We were told where it is a glaring violation, write it. Where it is questionable, don't," Hahn explained. "And to be polite and professional and use common sense. We're public servants. There is no smoking. You give the best appearance to the job."
The new enforcers, more than half of them women, come, from a wide variety of backgrounds.
Nance, a June college graduate in business and economics, had trouble finding a job in his field, and now needs money for graduate school. Hahn is a former salesman for a pharmaceutical company who wanted the "stability" of a government job. Neal is a former applications clerk in a city office, who grew tired of her typewriter.
The ticket issuers, who will number 50 at top strength, will earn between $9,391 to $10,507 a year, and will work eight-hour shifts between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. workdays - come rain, snow or sleet. Those assigned downtown will walk their beats, while those in outlying neighborhoods will have subcompact cars.
Katherine I. Booth 26, had just started to explain her new job to a reporter when she noticed an illegally parked volkswagen that had escpaed her watchful eye in the 1900 block of L. Street NW.
"If you will excuse me," she said, "I have to write to a ticket." And she stalked off.