What’s the best way for immigrants to make a living in New York City? Well, if you are like hundreds of newcomers from Bangladesh, the answer is the NYPD, specifically, working in the parking enforcement division.
It stands to reason, in a city with millions of parked cars, many of them have to be parked illegally. And someone has to give them tickets.
Although they make up less than 1% of New York’s population, Bangladeshis comprise more than 10% of the city’s 3000 parking officers. It turns out it’s a good job for someone with only a high school diploma, with a starting salary of $29k/year, generous pensions, and insurance benefits.
You might ask why so many Bangladeshis in the parking ticket business. A lot has a lot to do with word of mouth, specifically Showkat Khan, a 53-year-old traffic agent who gives seminars to his countrymen and helps them prepare for the Civil Service exam required for the job.
If you get a ticket in the Big Apple, don’t bother yelling at the ticketing officer, “Go back to your country!” That sort of thing does not bother veteran agent Jamil Sarwar, who just ignores them because he knows he’s just doing his job. Hey, he says, “I work for the city.”
According to the New York Times, about one-quarter of Bangladeshis who became parking agents have gone on to become police officers in the New York Police Department. And in a city with such a diversity of citizens, it really makes sense to have officers who represent that same diversity.