Working with the Meters
Larry Wyrostok was the parking and traffic technician in Lethbridge for seven years. Wyrostok said that the job was extremely difficult for a large part of the year. “[I spent] a couple of days a week collecting [coins from the meters] in all kinds of weather: rain, sleet and snow. I can remember [days that were] 35 degrees below. [I would put my] meter key in the vault door, and it wouldn’t open. It was frozen shut. [So I would take] a rubber mallet and give the [vault door] a little tap and then [I would] spray some ether on it. It could be quite tedious because [I had] 1500 meters to collect from.”
Like parking and traffic technicians, parking commissionaires also had to work in all kinds of conditions. Mavis Bastie, who was Lethbridge’s only female parking commissionaire during the 1990s, said that due to this she received support from her colleagues and the Lethbridge Police Department. “[If someone was harassing me] I just had to pick up the radio… they were there for you, and I knew that nobody would ever hurt me. They wouldn’t dare. It wasn’t because I couldn’t take them on, but it was because these guys [were looking out for me]… you’ve always got the police department there behind you.”
For Bastie, the best part of being a parking commissionaire was working with the public. “[Working parking was] a great opportunity to get to know people... [it] was something that I never expected and I don’t think people think of when they think of parking.” Overall, Bastie enjoyed her time working as a parking commissionaire. “When I worked the meters, I loved it. I enjoyed working parking and everything [that] it included… if I had my life to live over, would I do it [again]? Darn rights I would.”
To read more interviews about the coin-operated parking meter donated to the Galt, visit our online database at https://collections.galtmuseum.com.