We all have a story. It’s what makes us unique and different from one another. The bus driver who gets you to work — he has a story. The street vendors who make your breakfast sandwiches? They have a story. Our Parking Enforcement Officers (PEOs)? Yep — they all have a story too.
Here’s a brief story of Peter Free, a Northeast Philly native who became a PEO less than a year ago.
Before becoming a PEO, Free graduated from Bloomsburg University in 2014 as a music major.
“I play the trombone and double bass very well,” he says in a more than confident tone.
In fact, when he’s not walking his beats, Free is a private music teacher. But what instruments does he teach?
“I teach all of them and I play in three different orchestras when they need me and if I’m available.”
Aside from being a musical prodigy, Free primarily walks his beats around City Hall. And just like any PEO, he has to issue tickets — something he’d rather not do.
“There’s a stigma that PEOs are out to get you,” says Free. “But we’re not out there just to give tickets. We’re out there to educate, inform and if we need to, write a ticket.”
Just like all PEOs, Free is approachable while walking his beats.
“If you’re parking in the city and have a question, come on up and ask us. We don’t mind explaining what the signs mean and where you can or cannot park.”
When Free isn’t walking his beats or teaching the next Mozart, he prefers to just take it easy, just like the rest of us.
“My favorite TV show is the Simpsons, so I try to watch them or a movie whenever I can. I’ve also started playing League of Legends,” Free says. “In the long-run, it’s always nice just to relax and prepare for the day ahead.”
And prepare he must. The winter weather is upon us and Free along with all PEOs will be walking beats in freezing temperatures, which is why he’ll probably be looking forward to his lunch breaks to get a bit warmed up.
“Depending on the beat I’m walking, I’ll either to go Underdogs, Joe’s Pizza or Subway with other PEOs.”
So if you’re dining at Joe’s Pizza or Underdogs, don’t be surprised if you bump into Free and his fellow PEOs. In fact, it’d be a good time to ask them questions because remember: PEOs don’t just issue tickets, they also inform the public.