When I am awake in the middle of the night, I always seem to find the most interesting infomercials on TV. I am especially fond of all the car dealers who assure me that I am bound to get a lot for what I pay. From low Suzuki payments to “huge” Hyundai deals, it seems that college students could afford to ride in comfort and style.
For all of you who are dreaming of that lovely new car, stop! Forget about it. In fact, pretend I didn’t say anything. Why? Think of where you have to go once you buy the car and drive it to campus: the parking office. For those of you unfamiliar with this painstaking ordeal, let me offer you some highlights.
The first step in the arduous process is to go to the parking office and get a sticker. I am not talking about just any old sticker. I am talking about a $200 sticker. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not a cheapskate. Like anyone else, I have no qualms spending a lot of money for something, provided that I get something worth what I paid. With a $200 sticker on my back left window, that should get me premium parking, close to classes and my department, right?
Wrong! That hefty fee gets you a ticket to Park Lot, or as I like to call it, Purgatory. As you ride from the parking office to your parking space in a galaxy far, far away, you will notice empty parking spaces all over the place. No, no – I know exactly what you are thinking, but they are not for you. Keep on driving. After a few speed bumps, stop signs and reckless bicyclists, you will enter Park Lot. Look at all those empty spots on the right. Those are not too far from campus.
No! Don’t even think about it – that’s not Park Lot! Furthermore, that other zone has now been expanded and spaces that were in Park Lot are gone, just like West Virginia from Virginia in 1862.
Unless your watch says 8 a.m., you have a long way to drive before you will find a spot. In fact, if it is 11 a.m., you may have to go past the green monster all the way to Park Lot South, or as I call it, Hell.
Once you park, take a deep breath and enjoy the walk. Always carry an umbrella; you wouldn’t want to be caught in the rain so far from campus. In the winter, make sure that you button up and wear high friction boots.
Last, make sure and use the buddy system. Park Lot isn’t patrolled all day long and questionable characters routinely mosey their way in. In the end, if you make it to class in one piece, unscathed, dry, and able to climb the staircase in your building, go ahead and pat yourself on the back.
Oh yes, how could I forget?! As you enjoy the Boston Marathon en route to campus, make sure and wave to the guys in white vans with those intimidating yellow flashers. They say parking authority but what they mean is ticketing authority. They can spot a faulty sticker and write a ticket faster than those guys eating hot dogs at all-you-can-eat contests. Don’t expect them to be swift in warning you that your car is about to be towed when a last-minute repaving project comes up. After all, ticketing is a full-time job!
The point of this little vignette is to describe how illogical and, to be frank, annoying the parking situation is here at UR. All students who drive are forced to pay higher rates each year for increasingly bad parking spots.
Parking officials seem more interested in ticketing you for parking 16 minutes in the 15 minute flashers-on spots than protecting your car from vandalism and theft and you from harm. Empty spaces galore show up all over campus but students are forbidden from parking in them. Instead, at the risk of our health, safety, and arrival to class on time, we must park on another continent.
The problem of course is not that the lot is so far, but that we pay so much for so little. Maybe someone should call one of those local car dealers and let them take care of the parking situation. They seem pretty good at getting you a lot for your money.
Nonetheless, whoever you are and whatever your opinion, I think we can agree on one thing: the parking problem here at UR is huuuuuuuuuge.
Ramey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.