We were leaving the park the other day, after an impromptu visit that occurred on our way back from a milk restocking expedition. Walking along with him holding the buggy, suddenly I heard Jet’s brain whirr into action and he ran off ahead a little way, standing with his legs wide apart and his arms outstretched, blocking the path.
“Lockway!” He announced as we approached.
I played along. “How much is it for this baby and me to get past, please?”
“Eighty pounds!” He demanded, holding out his hand to receive payment.
I counted out the pretend money in tens (I had milk to put in the fridge, after all) and we made our way out of the park gates. No sooner had we turned the corner, Jet again stepped in front of us, shouting “Lockway!” and holding out his hand. This time it was seventy pounds. I completed the transaction and we carried on. For about two metres.
“Lockway!” He bellowed. “Sixty pounds please!”
I paid up, thinking that there seemed to be a good deal going for frequent visitors, and we continued. Jet trotted past Stella and I once more, barricading the path with carefully placed limbs.
“Lockway! One hundred pounds please!”
Now, this was too much to bear. I complained to my little official about the state of the pavement – it was one broken paving slab after another. I demanded to know how my high five payments were being invested, as it clearly was not going into the upkeep of the public highway. I explained that I had not long returned to work after maternity leave and that I had bills to pay. I was running out of pretend money with all these lockways! Soon, I would not be able to leave the house for fear of incurring further lockway-related debts! Think of the children!
“You can pay me with some of your real money!” Came the typically bureaucratic response, following the strict protocol handed down to him by the administration he represents. He had seen me go to the cashpoint earlier that day.
Relenting, and paying up (not in cash), I vowed that this could not go on. We were still only a few metres further down the road. At this rate, I would be facing serious high five fatigue by the time we reached home (still almost 25 yards away). I resolved to beat the system. So, when Jet next tried to step in front of the buggy, I was ready for him.
I ran. He ran alongside me, indignantly calling for me to stop evading the lockway charges, or words to that effect, and repeatedly trying to get in front of me again. We were both chuckling at this point, and Stella was delighted, squealing with laughter and kicking her little legs as we raced down the road towards home.
I will have to stay one step ahead of this guy in future, shrewd little man. 😉