Traffic Wardens
aka: Traffic Warden

A European job, being civilian staff employed by the police to enforce parking laws. Their handiwork can be seen if you ever park on a double yellow line in a British city.

Having acquired a reputation for petty-mindedness and inflexibility (ticketing people attending a funeral, for example), traffic wardens have become Acceptable Professional Targets in the United Kingdom and France. The North American versions are known as meter maids (even though most are male) and are just as disliked.

This sentiment has not been helped by the fact that the job is now outsourced to private companies. "Horror stories" (some of which were actually true) such as vehicles involved in traffic accidents and ambulances picking up critically injured patients being ticketed are commonplace. Other stories include the disabled and elderly people's cars having photographs deliberately taken from angles that won't show the Disabled Pass, or enforcement teams blocking people in and preventing them leaving before their parking permit expires. This happens because the private contractors now work on commission, when in earlier times traffic wardens were employed by the local police force and had no financial incentive to be Lawful Stupid.

Contrast with Meddlesome Patrolman.


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  • A McDonalds advert in the UK featured a traffic warden trying to put ticket on the windscreen of a monster truck.
  • A certain phone company has a Traffic Warden go around and putting tickets on people that really shouldn't be getting tickets. Like right after they've parked. During all the scream and pleading they open up the ticket to reveal money... or at least something nice.

    Comic Books 
  • Gaston Lagaffe's longtime foe Longtarin, who lives only to give parking tickets. Their rivalry sometimes reaches escalating prank war proportions.
  • In Ms. Tree, the title character originally worked as a parking attendant who met her future husband when she ticketed him. Furthermore, she was frustrated enough being relegated to that position that she accepted his offer to work for him instead.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The World Is Not Enough, James Bond splashes two wardens (played by those featured in Clampers) in a tight turn with the Q-Boat. Many cinema audiences in the UK cheered at this scene. Amusingly, the wardens were not told just how wet they were going to get (a small reservoir worth of water soaks them).
  • Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels has a traffic warden held prisoner by the criminals and beaten up, then recovered by the heroes — who can't resist beating him up themselves.
    Eddie: I fucking hate traffic wardens.
    (the gang proceed to beat said traffic warden senseless)
  • In the 2000 film version of Bedazzled, the Devil, in a Evil Is Petty moment, used her powers to make some parking meters expire early and then, as a meter maid, gave the cars tickets.
  • The BBC nuclear holocaust drama Threads famously used a picture of an armed and injured traffic warden for its publicity stills to suitably chilling effect.
  • The film Murder Party stars Chris Hawley a lonely fellow for whom insults and swearing is pretty much a routine which he accepts with a resigned passiveness. Until the titular party that will change everything that is...

  • In Good Omens the angel and demon protagonists both come upon a traffic warden writing a ticket, and both assume traffic wardens were created by the other's faction.
  • When Sergeant Colon and Corporal Nobbs found themselves in charge of the Discworld-equivalent of this department, the over-zealous clamping policy went so far as to include buildings as targets, including the Opera House and the Patrician's Palace. It could be argued that buildings do impede the flow of traffic somewhat.... Of course, Colon is a reasonable man and recognizes that Vetinari was parked on business. He's also willing to overlook the offense if the accused presents credible evidence of a free pint, a free meal, and/or information. Possibly the best trick they pulled (subsequently busted by Vetinari) was for Nobby to disguise himself as an old woman and cross the road extremely slowly in front of oncoming traffic, getting people to stop long enough that Colon could ticket them.
  • In the Tom Holt novel Who's Afraid of Beowulf?, the heroes find their vehicle has been clamped while they were in the museum. The king responds to this by drawing his sword and cutting the clamps off. All bystanders cheer.
  • One of the few sympathetic portrayals of traffic wardens was in the Julian Symons novel A Three Pipe Problem. Needing eyes on the streets, the hero Sheridan Hayes recruits the local traffic wardens: they know the streets, are out every day, and no-one pays them any attention.
  • Wolf in Shadow takes the problems with privatizing this position to its natural extreme: the rights to ticketing cars in one neighborhood are purchased by the local crime boss, who turns it into an outright extortion racket. At one point they clamp the car of one of the heroes, despite it clearly being labeled a police vehicle. Said hero beats the clampers to a pulp with his bare hands, to the general cheers of all witnesses.
  • This is Judy's first posting as a police officer in Zootopia. Being a rabbit, she uses her naturally sharp hearing to ticket vehicles within seconds of their meter expiring.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A BBC docusoap, Clampers, followed about a bunch of traffic wardens.
  • The Tomorrow People story The Doomsday Men featured a traffic warden as a Running Gag. In his first appearance, he tries to put a parking ticket on a van belonging to a friend of the TPs, only for the van to teleport away before he has a chance. He later gets fired after trying to prove to his boss that there is a disappearing van, and in his final appearance, he jumps in a river.
  • In the season three opener of Primeval, a traffic warden gets killed.
  • Parodied in The Chaser's War on Everything, where Julian Morrow, as the "Citizen's Infringement Officer" went around giving tickets for things such as stupid baby names instead.
  • Jocelyn Jee Esien played the character of an officious traffic warden who issues tickets for increasingly ridiculous "offences", such as being in a road accident or taking a nap in the car.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • In the episode "Camille", Lister tries to break Kryten's programming and teach him to lie. Succeeding, Kryten describes a banana as a "small, off-duty Czechoslovakian traffic warden", which was changed to Tasmanian in the Czech dub, perhaps because that country does not have them.
    • In the episode "Back to Reality", the crew wake up to find that Red Dwarf was a virtual reality program. Kryten's real identity turns out to be "Agent Jack Bullit of cybernautics". He assumes that he must be a Cowboy Cop, but Rimmer counters that maybe he's just a traffic warden with a ridiculously macho name. The latter option is later confirmed when they run into a real cop (of the fascist police state they're in).
  • One episode of Candid Camera featured a car with a loose windscreen, which fell in and smashed when the traffic warden tried to attach a ticket.
  • One sketch/bit on Trigger Happy TV featured a prank where the actor disguised as a Traffic Warden approaches a man either stopped at a red light or stop sign to tell him he can't park there. When the driver insists he's just stopped and not parked, the warden warns him not to get belligerent and starts writing up a fake ticket.
  • Harry and Paul features Parking Pataweyo, a cross between Postman Pat and a traffic warden, who lies in wait to issue people with tickets the second their parking permit runs out. In Pataweyo's last sketch his colleague gives him a parking ticket on his day off.
  • Parking Wars is an A&E Reality Show about parking enforcement, which shows their side of the story.
  • In Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson takes a lot of shots at them.
  • A skit where Lenny Henry is the next Doctor Who has him escaping the Cybermen only to find the TARDIS has been wheel-clamped. Fortunately his companion has a Disintegrator Ray.
  • In the 1990's spy comedy The Piglet Files the MI-5 protagonists realise their target is on the move and start their van to chase after them, only to discover they've been wheel-clamped.
  • George Roper from George and Mildred was employed as a traffic warden for a time (in keeping with his Butt Monkey status).
  • London's Burning: A traffic warden is unwise enough to wheel-clamp a vehicle driven by three tough-guy types, who don't take it very well and leave him chained to some nearby railings with three of his own clamps, as well as clamping his van and throwing the keys down a nearby drain for good measure. Neither the men of Blue Watch nor the police officer who initially responded bother to hide their amusement.

  • The Beatles: "Lovely Rita, Meter Maid" - written because they heard the phrase in America and thought it sounded far more romantic than 'traffic warden'.

  • That Mitchell and Webb Sound had a series of sketches called "Old Lady Job Justification Hearings," in which people have to explain what they do and "how it helps" before a panel of kind but firm old ladies. These include a snotty futures trader, a snotty PR guy, and the two comedians themselves, who are all gradually brought to realize that their careers are a waste of time. However, the one about a traffic warden has him start off as depressed because everyone's so down on traffic wardens, until the old ladies' questions give him a chance to explain that the rules he enforces are necessary and known to all drivers and that parking tickets provide a lot of revenue to the city. They declare his job a good one and reward him with cake.

    Stand Up Comedy 

Alternative Title(s): Traffic Warden