TMZ Muffin Man -- No Maria Shriver

11/25/2009 5:15 PM PST

TMZ Muffin Man -- No Maria Shriver

Maria Shriver ... did she get a special break yesterday when she went muffin/shoe shopping in Santa Monica, CA and left her SUV next to an expired parking meter? We decided to see for ourselves, and frankly ... we didn't do so well.

TMZ's intrepid muffin-eating reporter, Gary, went to Peet's Coffee -- the scene of Maria's crime. Gary left his whip at an expired meter and went inside for an orange-cranberry muffin. Gary was gorging himself when he looked out the window and saw a parking enforcement lady drive up to his car and get out.

Gary ran outside and pleaded, "I'm sorry. My meter must have ran out. I was inside getting muffins that were very important. I'm leaving right now."

Her response: "Sorry, there's nothing I can do for you. That's the way it is." She proceeded to write Gary a $50 parking ticket.

In fairness, Gary did not have a Dignitary Protection deputy to plead his case.

But, Gary says, the muffin was "delicious."

UPDATE: We apologize to Gary's mother ... who was under the impression he was on a diet.