There's a classic joke about the oleh chadash, the new immigrant to Israel, who sees that wherever he goes, people are parking on the sidewalk. One day, he's driving around and looking for parking. Nothing. Not a single legal space free, but people are still parking on the sidewalks. He sees a policeman and asks, "Excuse me, officer, is it legal for me to park on the sidewalks?"
"Absolutely not!" the policeman says sternly. "It's absolutely illegal and unsafe!"
"So why is everyone else parked there?"
"THEY didn't ask."
Leave it to Israelis to carry forward this classic parking humor joke into the Tumblr era. In "Dear Officer: Love Notes to Parking Cops," journalist Daniel Estrin is posting photos of interesting, moderately convincing and humorous notes from Israeli drivers to traffic cops pre-emptively begging that they not be given parking tickets. This means that they parked in a space that they knew wasn't legal, and instead of finding a legal space or paying the meter to park there, they decided their best or most just option was to leave a note in the window, explaining the car's presence with classic excuses like "our family is sitting shiva" (fair), "I'm picking up my kid from kindergarten" (okay, but so are most people, especially in Jerusalem), and "I'm performing a bris" (who hasn't been there?).
It's chutzpah. But it's also an "only in Israel moment" - the parking cop isn't really seen as mishtarah, the police that you might fear, but as a guy who's doing something annoying by giving out parking tickets, and why should you get one? You don't deserve it! You're doing something important. Like for instance, attending a local soccer match.
I live in Los Angeles. Driving and parking is all most people do here. I've seen busted meters with plastic bags over their "heads," burned-out shells of cars, cars held together with twine, and people living out of their cars. But pre-emptive notes to parking enforcement? Not in my neighborhood. (Although the Valley, which has a higher density of Israeli natives than some parts of Jerusalem, might be an exception - for all I know, this has been going on for years.)
So next time you're driving around, looking for spaces, and wondering if you can actually park there, why take a chance by asking? Leave a note, just in case. (And make it entertaining, because it will probably end up on Tumblr.)