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Q & A : Ticket Master

September 08, 1996|Allison Cohen

Last year the City of Los Angeles handed out more than 2,700,000 parking citations, collecting almost $60 million. One of the people responsible for those numbers is Ozvie Wilson. For nearly 25 years, Wilson has doled out citations as a Central Los Angeles Traffic Enforcement Officer ("meter maids" went by the wayside shortly before Gloria Steinem's heyday). He is also a traffic chaplain, clergy to both his department and recently ticketed souls.

Any interesting confrontations?

Oh, yeah. A woman claiming she was handicapped jumped on my back after I wrote her a ticket.

Does anyone still call you a meter maid?

Yes. To a traffic officer, it's a put-down. We've come a long way.

How does someone try to talk you out of a ticket?

"I'm here now," to which I reply, "Me, too."

Any other favorites?

"I had to go to the bathroom" and "My wife is pregnant, I'm waiting for her while she's shopping."

Are taped messages to broken meters a deterrent to getting a ticket?

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday September 29, 1996 Home Edition Los Angeles Times Magazine Page 4 Times Magazine Desk 1 inches; 22 words Type of Material: Correction
So SoCal note: In the Sept. 8 Q&A, L.A. traffic enforcement officer Ozvie Wilson incorrectly referred to "KABC's Dr. Laura Schlessinger." Her show is on KFI.

It depends. People play a lot of games. [If the meter is showing] yellow it's jammed--so no ticket. If the meter is red, I can't tell if the meter's really broken or not, so the citation book comes out.

Does your car have a radio?

Just AM. I like to hear Nat King Cole and Benny Goodman. It sets my mind to not let anything bug me. Then I listen to KABC's Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

How many tickets do you write on your busiest day?

On Saturdays, 35 to 40 tickets are a "give-me," and I'm a low producer!

What's your job strategy?

I try not to develop a route. People time you if you do. I come out and I feel free. I'm a rover. I just go all over.

You've been an honorary chaplain for your department since 1984. Ever sermonize on the beat?

My personal philosophy is service with a smile. I try to tell people it's not as grim as they think it is.

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