A pair of benevolent pranksters have issued hundreds of fake parking tickets around Toronto because they wanted to “make people smile.”
The tickets mimic the design of legitimate Toronto police parking notices, but feature humorous notes and inspirational quotes in the place of the usual vehicle descriptions and bylaw explanations.
“We create this tension in our hearts about getting a ticket and then when we reveal it, it’s actually just a really nice thing,” said Erica Bota.
“So we wanted to play with this idea of tension and releasing that tension in someone.”
Bota, 33, and her partner Zohar Berlyand, 34, say they recruited around 30 “secret agents” to help distribute the tickets on Tuesday evening.
The teams placed around 500 of the notices under car windshields across the city, from Kensington Market to North York.
One of the infractions said: “Doing a fantastic parking. Probably the best I’ve seen on this entire street.”
After recovering from the initial shock of spotting the yellow slip, people were asked to share their experience on social media using the hashtag #yourefineTO.
“We saw people react very positively,” Berlyand said of the initial response, though the pair have acknowledged criticism that the stunt was unnecessary and misguided.
“Ok, great, it’s fake, but I’d rather not have the stress of seeing the ticket,” wrote one commenter on Reddit’s Toronto page, where Bota and Beryland posted a photo of the ticket.
“This is cringey,” said another commenter.
Bota and Beryland say the negative comments are largely from people who did not actually receive one of the tickets.
“Of course there’s going to be people on the fringe who react in a way that we can’t control, but we just thought this was a safe, friendly mission,” Bota added.
‘Imagine it wasn’t a ticket’
The two hatched the plan after recent hiking trip in Milton, where they knowingly parked illegally before setting off on the trail.
When they returned to their car, they expected to be ticketed, but Bota wondered about a different possibility.
“We were like, ‘imagine it wasn’t a ticket. Imagine it was somebody playing a game,'” she told CBC Toronto.
The pair said recruiting helpers was relatively easy once people heard about what they call “the mission.”
They said the printing shop worker who made the fake notices even asked to join in after working on the tickets.
Bota said they also came across some real parking enforcement officers while out ticketing, one of whom learned what they were doing and “thought it was really cute.”
After successfully launching the ticketing plan, the two say they’re now working on other ideas to brighten people’s lives, but wouldn’t say exactly what they have planned.
“We have things on our minds,” Beryland said.