Miles is good at his job and doesn't make many mistakes, yet he says he still manages to be belittled, screamed at, and threatened.
Every Monday through Friday, and one Saturday per month from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., Miles, 42, patrols the streets of Hoboken. He tickets cars at elapsed meters, in front of bus lanes, and within 25 feet of crosswalks. He tickets more than 50 cars each day.
The difficulty of parking in Hoboken aggravates most of the city's drivers. Street spaces are scarce. Drivers who try to avoid paid parking can wind up caught in illegal spaces.
Local lore says that the last person who drives into Hoboken at 2 a.m. must ride around until the first street parking space opens up at 5 a.m.
Miles and other parking officers of the Hoboken Parking Utility are frequently the targets of the drivers' ire when they are snagged.
"I hear a lot of threats," Miles said. "They say, 'If you didn't have that uniform on, I'd beat you up.' So I say, 'Listen, I'm not going anywhere.' "
Miles says that recently, he was threatened by a young woman whom he described as no more than 5 feet tall. Miles, who is athletically built and stands taller than 6 feet, was astonished by her physical threats.
"I said to her, 'Are you playing?' which really got her going," he said. "And she said, 'Oh so you think this is funny?' "
Taking the job
Growing up, Miles never thought he would become a parking officer. He wanted to work for the city and took the job when it opened up three years ago. There are perks to the job, including a clothing allowance of $700 per year and good benefits.
"It's a small city," Miles said. "There are not many jobs around here. It's not a factory. You're not killing yourself."
Though the job doesn't demand physical labor, it does require thick skin. Miles has heard his share of racial slurs and verbal abuse.
"I've been called every name in the book," he said. "I've been told to get a real job. They blame you because they got a ticket. But I've learned to brush it off."
On one Tuesday shift, Miles patrolled the area from Observer Highway to Third Street, and from Bloomfield Street to Hudson Street. On Second Street between Washington and Bloomfield streets, near McDonald's, he wrote tickets for three of the 12 cars parked on the block. Two cars were at an overdue meter ($20 fine), and the other got a $54 fine for parking within 25 feet of a crosswalk.
One block over, he ticketed five of the 11 cars parked on the street.
A group of teenage girls walked out of McDonald's and saw the parking ticket on their car.
"You are so kind," one of them screamed at him. Another girl cursed at him from the car as they drove away. "See, they blame you," Miles said. "There is proof."
Most of the parking officers put any type of verbal insult in the comments section on the ticket, he said. Therefore if the ticket goes to court, anything the defendant said to the parking officer will be visible for the judge to see.
A man ran down Washington Street when he saw Miles writing a ticket for his Suburban, which was parked at an elapsed meter.
"I didn't make it, huh?" the man asked.
"Nah, but I'll give you a break," Miles replied.
The man put a quarter in the meter, thanked Miles, and walked off.
"See, I'm not mean to everyone," Miles said.
In fact, people who know Miles don't think he's mean at all. Miles, who has lived in Hoboken since age 5, has a number of friends around town. People wave at him from cars as they pass. Store owners know him by name. He chats with people on the street who he knows from playing basketball at Hoboken High School.
"I know everybody," Miles said. "Some people come and talk to me and I don't even know who they are."
During his shift, Miles ran into Eladio Castillo, 30, a parking officer patrolling the same area. Castillo, who was born and raised in Hoboken, said he, too, receives verbal abuse from angry drivers.
"If you threaten us, we're going keep writing that ticket," he said. "If you talk to us nice, you might get away without getting a ticket."
Castillo admitted that parking officers might be the most disliked people in the town.
"People despise us," Castillo said. "The police don't like us because they get tickets. The store people feel the same way. They get mad when you give them a ticket but they overlook all the times you haven't."
Castillo doesn't think that anyone, including police officers, is exempt from getting a parking ticket.
"One time I was writing a ticket and it was the car of a Port Authority cop. He told me to keep walking. So I said, 'I'll keep walking - after I give you this ticket.' "
They get tickets, too
Even parking officers are not exempt from getting tickets.
"I've gotten tickets," said Castillo, who parks his car on the streets of Hoboken when he is not working. "That's the funny thing. I've gotten one even when I had a badge and ticket book displayed on my dashboard. If I can get tickets, they can too."
Castillo faces the same struggle as other Hoboken residents finding a parking spot in such a densely populated city.
"There are too many people," he said. "There is absolutely no parking."
Miles and Castillo take hot chocolate breaks in the basement of City Hall to warm up during winter months. In the winter, Miles' navy blue winter hat keeps him warm while he's outside. He cools down in the summer by eating mango and vanilla gelatos from the Ice Hut on Washington Street.
An officer passed by and said to Castillo, "There is a woman downstairs who is screaming about some ticket you gave her. She had a white car and I think it was for parking in a bus lane."
Castillo and Miles both remembered the car, which was illegally parked near Washington and First streets. "All you have to do is follow the rules," Castillo said. "If you follow the rules, you won't get a ticket. That's all you have to do and you won't have problems with us. I don't want to be your enemy."