Picture of the Day: Act of Kindness or Crime?

A CrownHeights.info reader witnessed a random act of kindness – or lawlessness, depending on your view – by a stranger in Crown Heights last week. Noticing that a parked car had received a ticket for lacking a meter slip, the man quickly purchased one for him and placed it on the windshield next to the ticket, enabling the car-owner to effectively fight the ticket in court by claiming he had paid the meter within the allotted five-minute time-span.

The photographer approached the man and asked him if what he did was legal, and the man admitted that the agent specifically told him it was not.

The photographer then asked the man if he thought was he did was ethical, and the man responded: “Without a doubt, yes. I’m sure that that car-owner, whoever he is, can use the money better then the city. Besides, it’s not like the meter maids are any better. Look at him,” he said, pointing in the direction of the agent, “he is standing by that car because he sees the meter is about to expire. He is waiting there so that he can write him a ticket the minute it expires. Is that ethical?!”

What is your opinion?

1 (129)

77 Comments

  • 2. C wrote:

    just because the agent says its illegal does not make it illegal and the truth is that it is legal to pay for a meter for someone else and you do have 5 minutes to do that.

    Its legal and ethical

  • 5. Done it more than once wrote:

    Any time I see a traffic agent and cars with expired (or lacking) muni-meter tickets, I buy a ticket for 25cents and then stick it inside the envelope.

    There is NO DOUBT in my mind that this is the RIGHT and ETHICAL thing to do, and hope everyone does the same.

    Bus lanes with Cameras, reducing speed-limits to unrealistic speeds (25mph on Atlantic Avenue) and placing speed-camera TRAPS, Red-Light Cameras, just to fill up the city coffers so that they can enact the liberal agenda “without raising taxes”, and crying Public Safety (if they really cared, speed-bumps do much more than signs or cameras to reduce speed) — all of those by the city DOT are UNETHICAL!!!

  • 6. ShmuliT wrote:

    I’ve done it before on Kingston. If you are worried, wait till the cop passes before attaching the receipt.

    It used to be more of a thrill running in front of them feeding the empty meters with a quarter.

  • 7. Motti wrote:

    Drivers get a 5-minute grace period past the expired time on Muni-Meter receipts.

    It is legal to buy a present for someone.
    Since There is a 5 minute grace period it is legal for me to give someone a gift of paying is parking fare .

    So as long as its within the 5 minute grace period ….

    • 8. Obstruct A Police Officer wrote:

      It is illegal to obstruct a police officer.

      If the police are about to conduct a raid and you run up to hoodlums and tell them that the cops are coming to arrest them, then you are obstructing police officers and you can go to jail.

      Parking violations are not crimes per se, but they are offences and illegal.

      Parking enforcement – as much as we hate it, it is the law.

      When you tip off the offender or cause the offender to escape punishment, you are obstructing police officers from preforming their duty.

    • 9. Obstruct A Police Officer wrote:

      It is illegal to obstruct a police officer.

      If the police are about to conduct a raid and you run up to hoodlums and tell them that the cops are coming to arrest them, then you are obstructing police officers and you can go to jail.

      Parking violations are not crimes per se, but they are offences and illegal.

      Parking enforcement – as much as we hate it, it is the law.

      When you tip off the offender or cause the offender to escape punishment, you are obstructing police officers from preforming their duty.

      Article asks: Is it ethical?

      Ask a better question: Is it LEGAL?

    • 10. Milhouse wrote:

      So what if it’s illegal? It’s a MITZVAH. The Torah not only gives you permission to do it, but if not for the outlay of money you would be OBLIGATED to do it. If it’s against the law, so much the worse for the law.

      Al pi din you are not required to lay out money from your pocket for this mitzvah, so if you don’t do it you will have a defense when you come Above, and you will be able to say “Eibershter, I really needed that quarter”. But obviously if you’re willing to lay out the money you have a great zechus. And if it really bothers you, you can leave a note for the driver that he owes you a quarter and should pay you when he next sees you.

    • 11. Milhouse wrote:

      Oh, and if you know a yid is about to be arrested you are OBLIGATED MIN HATORAH to warn him.

    • 12. K wrote:

      What “mitzvah”?

      To save a person’s property from a fire or a flood would ONLY be if the person did not place his property in front of the fire or flood waters.

      If the person davkah places his property in front of the fire’s path and in front of the flood waters, he was mafkir his property to the potential damage.

      There is NO mitzvah to save such a person’s property!

      That is POSHUT!

    • 13. K wrote:

      Milhouse wrote: “…leave a note for the driver that he owes you a quarter and should pay you when he next sees you.”

      Huh?

      You gave a mattanah to the car owner and he suddenly owes you to pay it back??

      I will give you my sefer and then send you a bill that you owe me $ for it?!

    • 14. Applause to guy wrote:

      Mr. Obstruct, you are absurd. So what if the ‘Good Samaritan’ would have paid the fine, would he be obstructing the police’s ability to punish? After all, the offender doesn’t get punished if another volunteers paying the fine. Dumb comment. Of course what he did was legal. Not to mention that the police are always illegally parked. They have to be able to get their refreshments without hassle. It’s an emergency. I’ve had police admit that they drive illegally and their excuse is, what if they get a call, their illegal parking enables their swift response. So I ask them, so doctors can do that too? So they go hemne hemne hemne (hem and haw). It’s sedom in USA. Wake up. One law for government and another for the puny citizens. Not to mention that many cops don’t like Jews and they excercize that prejudice with their citation booklets.

    • 15. Anonymous wrote:

      Yep, “many cops don’t like Jews and they excercize (SIC) that prejudice with their citation booklets” because they know the car owner is Jewish, right? How do they know – is it because the car is covered with Israeli flags? Does the licence plate have a yellow star on it? Because 100% only Jews live in this area? Maybe they have a crystal ball that tells them which car has a Jewish owner! Clearly you believe that it is pure anti-Semitism when a cop gives you a parking ticket.

    • 16. To "Applause to guy" wrote:

      “One law for government and another for the puny citizens.”

      Yep, that is the way it is.

      The government makes the rules and can decide when to follow them or even change them.

      Ever notice that police CAN carry loaded guns, but we can’t?

      Ever notice that they can demand that you pull over your car and stop, but you can’t do that to someone else?

      Ever notice the police can park on the sidewalk but you can’t?

      And did you know that the police can decide whether or not they will give you a ticket or just a warning?

  • 17. Yisrael Shemtov wrote:

    would run up and down Kingston back in the day and put quarters in the meters as the meter maid would approach to give a ticket. It is a true act of kindness!

  • 19. I call mitzvah!! wrote:

    Someone did it for me recently, on albany & eastern parkway…wish I knew who, so I could thank them personally!

  • 20. Yankel wrote:

    I am concerned that in the unkind world of today, folks are critically questioning acts of kindness. Let us stop asking these kinds of questions. The individual who placed the meter slip on the windshield did it not for his own wellbeing, but for the wellbeing of another human being who he doesn’t even know. And we ought to be sitting around questioning and judging him? Certainly not!
    It is really sad how so many kind people are judged on a day to day basis. A person is kind to the elderly, other people remark, “Maybe he’s kind to old people so he can be included in their will!” A person is kind to children, other people remark, “Maybe he’s a pedophile!” A person donates to a yeshivah… “Don’t enable lazy parents who don’t want to work for a living!” A person puts away the books at shul… “Why are you being a fryer? Let everyone put away his own books.” A person gives another a lift… “That is so foolish! Don’t give a ride to any random person.” It never ends. Let us applaud those who do acts of kindness, not the opposite!

    • 21. Revenge wrote:

      Act of chesed or act of revenge?

      I bet he once got a parking ticket. Now he is taking revenge.

      It is worth it for him to “lose” $0.25 just so that the enemy (City) won’t get the revenue of a parking ticket.

  • 24. V'Ohavta L'Rayacha Komocha wrote:

    If the other guy parks his car illegal and doesn’t care about getting a ticket, since when is there a mitzvah to care about him MORE than he cares about himself???

    If a man has lots of food in his pocket but refuses to eat it and is therefore starving, is there a mitzvah to give him MORE food??

    Sure it is nice to have someone pay the meter for you, but let’s not make a mitzvah out of a foolish act of misplaced kindness.

    • 27. K wrote:

      Hashovas aveida? If it isn’t l’fi kvodo of the loser? How silly!

      Suppose you refuse to carry your dead cow in the street because it is beneath your dignity, so you leave it there (hefker?), am I mechuyav to shlep the carcass for you? Is that hashovas avaida?

      Here the person knowingly left his car parked illegal and does not care of the risk of getting a ticket – so I have a chiyuv/mitzvah of hashovas avaida to save his car-cass???

      How silly!!

  • 28. couldnt agree more wrote:

    It is both legal and ethical. What’s required is that the meter is payed and there is a 5 minute window to do it. Period.

    It’s not a “choivaa gavra”. And even if it was “zochin le’adam sheloi midaato”.

    • 29. Mazik wrote:

      When you save someone a ticket, you are making the City lose money.

      Who is “The City”? The City is YOU and ME and ALL residents of the city.

      We all lose the revenue of the ticket that someone should have gotten, if not for your meddling!

      You are a MAZIK es harabim!

      Yes, you saved this individual a ticket, but it costs all of us!

      If the City does not get the money from tickets, it will get it other ways – from EACH ONE OF US.

      You are a despicable thoughtless MAZIK!!!

    • 30. Milhouse wrote:

      Even in a Jewish city, it is still not entitled to that revenue, so there is no hezek. Kal vochomer in a non-Jewish city, where it is mamash “matzil miyodom”.

    • 31. K wrote:

      Milhouse is again misleading with unfounded claims.

      A city has a right (even if they are goyim it is included in their obligation under the Sheva Mitzvos Bnei Noach) to make takonos for the benefit of the residents.

      Taxes and fines (that are fair) are actually an obligation of good governance and a just society.

    • 32. big government wrote:

      The “city” is just big government and the more tickets they can give the bigger they will get. Parking violation its not supposed to be a revenue source its supposed to be a fine so that laws are obeyed.

  • 33. pay it forward wrote:

    I have been lucky to have someone do it for me and since then I have done it many times and will continue doing so!!

  • 34. everyone should do this wrote:

    If everyone purchased tickets as they saw a meter maid.. they would eventually give up coming down the avenue.

    • 35. Dumb and Dumber wrote:

      If everyone keeps doing this, guess what?

      Duh!

      The City will fix the problem by eliminating the 5 minute grace period.

  • 36. Who knows??! wrote:

    I actually got to my car as the officer was writing the ticket, and he himself suggested I go pay the meter. He said as long as the meter gets paid within 5 minutes of writing the ticket it can be dismissed. I thought that was really nice and thoughtful of him.

  • 37. BTW wrote:

    Why cant we just have ez-pass type systems for street parking, it’ll take the hassle out of the need to pay, and will save the city money by eliminating the need for meter maids, and will ensure parking gets paid, and will also eliminate (or seriously reduce) the need for parking tickets. Unless the city want us to get tickets as a form of revenue, which is a back door scheme of collecting taxes, this is illegal.

  • 39. I can't believe the responses here wrote:

    The city is issuing tickets right and left lately. It is out to get us. Meters, eastern parkway slow zone, bus lanes. Yes i will help someone in this situation. It’s 100% legal and ethical! Someone saved me once. People be smart about it, place the paid meter inside, and office may pass by and remove it!

  • 40. Confused wrote:

    When I read the many comments complimenting this: I fully agree and nod my head “yes”.

    But when I read Obstruct A Police Officer, Revenge, V’Ohavta L’Rayacha Komocha, Mazik, Dumb and Dumber: I see their points and nod my head “yes”.

    The points they make are all valid too!

    So I am confused! I am mixed up! Torn between the opposite view points!

    I can’t believe that such a simple action is so terribly confusing me between right and wrong.

    • 41. Milhouse wrote:

      There’s nothing to be confused about. Are you a yid? Then act like one. Stop making an avoda zora of the “law”.

    • 42. a story that might clear.. wrote:

      The Frierdiker Rebbe went on mesuras nefesh to the interior ministry (gov’t headquarters) at that time and stamped on a document that was about to put a stop to torah and mitvos- not accepted. now i ask u is it illegal what the Friediker Rebbe did or not? when it involves torah mitzvos NOTHING IS ILLEGAL. It depends all on the kavanah of the person- for the sake of torah legal, for the sake of me, myself and i (animal souls) wants and wishes illegal. keep doing mitzvos with pure heart and mind only for the sake of Hashem.

    • 43. Confused wrote:

      Milhouse, are you saying a frum yid does not have to keep the law? Is a frum yid allowed to park illegally? What am I supposed to do when I need to buy challah and wine for shabbos and there is no legal parking available or the minyan is starting and I can’t find legal parking? This happens all the time and I don’t know what a frum yid is supposed to do?

    • 44. To "a story that might clear..." wrote:

      So you are saying “when it involves torah mitzvos NOTHING IS ILLEGAL”.

      WOW that is good to know!

      Now I know that I can park in your driveway when I need to catch a minyan because “when it involves torah mitzvos NOTHING IS ILLEGAL”.

      My kavanah will be pure – to get to the minyan and daven to Hashem.

      Also, can I cheat the government (taxes and social assistance programs) so that I can afford to learn torah and do mitzvos b’hiddur? Since you tell us that the story teaches us “when it involves torah mitzvos NOTHING IS ILLEGAL”!

    • 45. response to: a story that might clear.. wrote:

      If u want to be a wise guy, everything is illegal! just to make my point that u can understand: to park your car in my driveway i certainly would not mind and be lchaf zechus and not to think u did it to go on my nerves. now about the gov’t: is it involving a chillul Hashem? yes. then is this what HASHEM wants? NO! and U WON’T TELL ME WHAT THE FRIERDIKER REBBE DID WAS ILLEGAL!

    • 46. To "response to: a story that might clear.. " wrote:

      “to park your car in my driveway i certainly would not mind and be lchaf zechus and not to think u did it to go on my nerves”

      Of course I did not do it to get on your nerves! I did it because in my world, you do not exist and certainly I do not need to be considerate of your needs.

      It is great to know that you do not mind if I park in your driveway and block your car… while I am away in Florida for the next three weeks.

      Please share with us your address!

      (BTW my house is under renovation and can I also leave my construction garbage on your front porch? )

    • 47. response to: a story that might clear.. wrote:

      “I did it because in my world, u do not exist..” as i mentioned in my first reply pls reread the response- is your foundation is based on Hashem or me, myself and i? Hashem says dont do to others what u wouldnt someone to do to you! when the Rebbe says pple call darkness light – i understand what the Rebbe is refering to.

  • 49. K wrote:

    I think the real kler and shaylah should be:

    (1) After someone places a meter slip on someone else’s car which got ticketed, may I remove the meter slip?

    (2) Suppose I need the meter slip for my own car, is there a ba’alus (ownership) on the meter slip that was left on another’s car (and if so, whose ba’alus)?

    (3) Suppose I take the meter slip off that person’s car and place it on someone else’s car to save the other person from a ticket (on the cheshbon of the first car)?

    (4) Suppose I was the one who bought the meter slip and put it on Plonei’s car but now I changed my mind – can I take it off his car (or was his car koneh the meter ticket for him – kinyan chotzer)?

    Four Kashyos and it’s already 60 days to pessach!

    • 50. LOL!! wrote:

      You say it’s 60 days to Pessach but your comment is more in tune with 30 days to Purim! K, are you already at Ad D’lo Yoda? This isn’t a Brisker or BMG purim lomdus! Here is a suggestion – write a sefer about this topic, I am sure it will be a best seller in your kollel!

    • 51. eureka moment! wrote:

      Purim = ad dlo yoda, Pessach = aino yodaya lishoel.

      Purim = drinking. Pessach = 4 cups wine.

      Both = geulah.

      Connection! Drinking brings moshiach!

  • 52. Mitzvah wrote:

    It’s a great mitzvah!!!!

    It’s legal,ethical and a mitzvah to do that

    Hashem should bless with all revealed good to all the people who do that

    • 53. Another mitzvah wrote:

      Here is a GREATER mitzvah – come shovel my sidewalk so I don’t get a fine from the city!

  • 54. Nice and thoughtful!!! wrote:

    This person did an act of kindness. Leave him alone and don’t go making him feel guilty – is that a mitzvah or ethical behavior?

    You want to spare others from paying tickets, go right ahead and be nice. You don’t want to or have anything nice to say – don’t.

    • 55. Halacha is not "optional" wrote:

      We have bchira to choose but we must choose the correct action. Halacha is not optional. If it is wrong to place a meter slip, them we must denounce it with condemnation. If it is right to place the meter slip, them we must commend it and encourage it. There is no “middle ground”. Even by dirvrei r’shus we are told kadesh atzmecho b’mutter loch.

  • 57. Blocked driveway wrote:

    Hey, whomever is parked right now and blocking my driveway, I will be calling it in and you will get a parking ticket!

    I need to get to work!

    But wait a minute – will I be losing the mitzvah of hashovas aveida?

    Will I be a mazik?

    Will it be messirah?

    I need to get to work but you are blocking my driveway!

    (Please note that I still love you and do not hate you in any way and I am not in ka’as – angry, which is like avoda zara!)

    Oy it is so hard to be a yid!

    • 58. Good point - I think wrote:

      I never thought of it that way! Can’t I do whatever I want with my money? If I already gave the 10% tzedakah, why do I need to use the extra quarter to feed a hungry person? I already did my quota of charity.

  • 59. Tzeddakah wrote:

    You have a spare quarter. Shouldn’t you rather give it to tzeddakah?

    What would Hashem want you to do with that quarter – give it to a poor man who is hungry or save some guy (who can afford a car!) from getting a parking ticket?

    By using the quarter improperly, you might be mevatel a mitzvah of tzeddakah.

    We need to THINK before we do. It might FEEL good to save the guy from a ticket but what about saving the hungry from starving???

    Moach shalit al halev!

  • 60. Hispallel B'shlom Malchus wrote:

    Imagine – a city without parking rules!

    Would it be Gan Eden or Gehenim?

    Imagine – a city without any traffic rules!

    No more tickets, but the city would be impossible to survive in!

    Contrary to what Milhouse claims, the mishna tells us: Hispallel B’shlom Malchus – without government rules we would self destruct.

  • 61. I sure wish someone would have done this for me last week ! wrote:

    My errands took a few minutes longer than I planned & I came out to find a gift from DeBlassio on my windshield !! How could anyone even have a question if this person did a correct and kind thing ?

    • 62. K wrote:

      Torah is not governed by what feels good. As an example, shmitta seems cruel and unfair, that a farmer cannot work the land for a year, but that is halacha. Not everything that makes you happy is permitted by Torah. You may be happy that someone saved you from a ticket but it might be ossur for that person to do so. As an example, you may be desperate for a loan and happy to pay a small surcharge to get the loan (you are totally mochel paying this extra fee), but it is ossur for me to give you such a loan! It doesn’t matter what YOU think, what matters is what Torah thinks. As a ben-Torah I try to guide people to think the way Torah does!

  • 63. HELP wrote:

    If it was done for you, you would say it is ethical and legal but when you see it happen for someone else you question(?!) It should be the other way around!

  • 64. Ezra wrote:

    How about, if you want to claim it’s a crime, you cite the section of the New York State (or City) traffic law that says so? Here’s the section of the NYC rules dealing with parking: http://rules.cityofnewyork.us/content/section-4-08-parking-stopping-standing; I, for one, don’t see anything in there about it being illegal to feed a meter for someone else.

    The fact that a meter maid claims that it is illegal means nothing whatsoever; he or she does not make the law. (And, frankly, a lot of them – regular cops too, often enough – are downright ignorant of it.)

    To all those arguing that by doing so you’re depriving the city of revenue: by that logic, you as the owner of a vehicle (or house, or whatever) should rack up as many violations as possible, because each time you fix one – whether by feeding a meter, or cleaning your sidewalk, or whatever – you’re preventing the city from making money on the ticket they’d give you. Which is, of course, ludicrous.

    And to K, the middas sedomnik who argues that you’re under no obligation to help someone out of the consequences of their mistakes: yehi ratzon that one day you’re in life-threatening danger, and the bystanders take the same view about you – that it’s your fault and you don’t deserve any help.

    • 65. K responding To Ezra wrote:

      Clearly you do not know the sugya of Rediyas HaPas where the halacha is that one should not be oiver on a d’rabbon to “save” a person from a d’oraysa which he brought about himself!

      Ain omrim l’odom chatay bishvil she’yizka chavero – when a person places a dough in the oven on shabbos, I am NOT allowed to remove the dough to save that person from baking on shabbos. Even though removing dough from oven is only a d’rabbonon, while baking on shabbos is a melacha d’orayta.

      When a person brings about his peril, I am NOT ALLOWED to “save” him.

      You may not agree or like or feel comfortable with halacha, but that is the EMES and you live in sheher.

    • 66. Ezra wrote:

      And you still haven’t proven that it’s an aveirah – not de’oraisa, not derabanan – to feed someone else’s meter. So you’re taking a halachah and twisting it to justify your midas sedom. Very nice.

      Do us a favor and inform us of your full name, so that we know not to marry anyone from your family. והגבעונים לא מבני ישראל המה.

  • 68. Take off meters from all Kingston ave at least on Friday and before holidays !!! wrote:

    Why we need Meters in our neighborhood ? Why it’s meter in effect on Shabbes ? Who is parking there on Shabbes on Kingston ave ?
    Why we don’t have double parking Permit during our synagogue services , include parking on the pedestrian area ? Why we are not making out lives easy ?
    Where is our community ?

    • 69. Purpose of meters wrote:

      In a business area, meters serve a HELPFUL function, that the parking is not hogged by some cars all day long. Without meters, cars from apartments nearby would take all the spots and leave no place for shoppers to park. Likewise, meters make it less convenient for store owners and employees to leave their cars in front of the stores (encouraging them to park further away). This HELPS shoppers!! Yes we hate meters but it would be much worse without them!!

  • 70. Nachman wrote:

    The nice fellow who saved this person from a ticket by nature would save others from tickets. So it would be sensible that he leave his name and address so he can be reimbursed 5 dollars not a quarter. 5 dollars is certainly cheaper than a Ticket.

    • 71. Ribbis wrote:

      I give you a quarter and you repay me $5 – let’s see, is that not “ribbis” (interest)? Especially when I leave my name an number WITH THE EXPECTATION that you “repay” your debt!

  • 72. K wrote:

    This is the perfect scenario that demonstrates the need for Da’as Torah.

    As you see there are strong reasons for and against this “act of kindness”, and it may be a mitzva or aveira.

    It isn’t what YOU (a cholent eating kugel fresser that maybe does “shnayim mikra” once a week) think or feel good about, but what the Torah says about it.

    Only a Ben Torah (like me) can understand the issue from a halacha viewpoint while only a Rav and Posek can decide.

  • 73. To K wrote:

    Your “Torah” is novol bir’shus haTorah and brings disgrace to Jewish values.

    Everything you believe in is strictly limited to al pi din (and your interpretation of din) – what about lifnim mishuras hadin?

    A simple act of goodness and you make dozens of shaylos and chumros about it!

    I bet you were the one who raised the issue about misplaced tzeddakah!

    I accuse you of asking about being “mazik es harabim”!

    You probably even wrote the ma’alos of having parking meters!

    I am sure those comments are from you because: In this world there cannot be two mishugoyim like you!

    • 74. Ezra wrote:

      It’s not even limited to al pi din. His “dinim” themselves are fraudulent.

      (I do disagree with your characterization of the commenter who wrote about the maalos of parking meters. I’m no great fan of them either, but that commenter does have a point: without them it would be nearly impossible to find onstreet parking when you go shopping.)

    • 75. Ezra agrees with K wrote:

      How can Ezra agree that parking meters (and the resulting tickets) are a GOOD thing?! What a chutzpa! You ARE the enemy!

  • 76. Parking Meters wrote:

    I am so angry at K that I would hang him from the nearest parking meter.

  • 77. HESHY wrote:

    IT TRULY SADDENS ME TO SEE WHAT THE jEWISH PEOPLE HAVE DEVOLVED TO, SHAME ON YOU.

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