Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Lot in Life

Today is the second First Day of School and yesterday went very well, except for one thing. Over my luxurious summer I seem to have forgotten about the parking situation. Parking at school is a total, effing nightmare. Have you ever seen on TV or in movies when they show people trying to drive in major cities located in crowded, often hot for some reason, third world countries? Imagine driving in Calcutta or Cairo or almost anywhere in a big South American city or Mexico City and you will have some vague idea of what it is like trying to get through the parking lot at school. And by this comparison I mean not to say that our students are all from third world countries. My comparison is based on chaos, crowdedness, insane driving and a calamitous lack of space compared to number of cars needed to drive through that space. With the horns, the booming bass blaring reggaeton from a car whose speakers are worth more than the car itself, the cussing, the obscene gestures it's all enough to give a zen master a terrible case of heart burn and tremors.

I don't live all that far from school but I have to leave over an hour before I actually need to be there because of the elaborate ordeal I must endure in order to find a parking place. But since this doesn't just happen at schools, I'm sure a lot of people can relate, especially those who live in big cities. I've never seen anywhere more terrifying to park in than San Francisco (those hills!) and I've seen literal fist fights break out in New York City with its confusing alternate side of the street parking rules that I've never figured out. Parking is just stressful.

I blame the parking situation at school on many factors. South Florida, for one, is just not all that public transportation friendly and everything here is very spread out. We have a lot of commuter students and the school has grown in population faster than it has grown in parking lots. Add to that that everyone has a car and complicated schedules make car pooling almost impossible. And plus we're in South Florida where everyone is crazy anyway and no one in this part of the state can seem to drive like a calm, rational human being. I can't blame these kids for their maniacal driving. They've grown up here for the most part and have had terrible role models.

The difficult parking situation has prompted me to devise all sorts of schemes in order to score a space.

First I drive aimlessly around the parking and hope to get lucky, which I do not. I think I have only once gotten lucky. I've even tried to use The Secret to get a parking space, telling myself "I WILL get a space. There is a parking space for me. I'm going to find a parking space." The Secret did not work. I could not manifest myself a parking space, but perhaps I didn't truly believe that I would find a parking space enough and the universe somehow knew that and punished me for my lack of faith.

When manifesting a parking space doesn't work I become a stalker. I wait patiently until I see someone and then I drive very slowly and creepily behind them until they get to their car. Often this technique ends in disaster. It's always my luck that I choose to stalk the person who isn't actually leaving. They're usually going to get something out of the car, which is a cruel and evil tease, or worse yet they're going to just sit in the car for a while, maybe even turn it on and take a nice nap in there in between classes. This is very mean. Worse even than the nappers are those who choose to sit in their car before their next class and get high, while pretending that they aren't actually getting high but that they are smoking cigarettes. Cigarettes that smell like skunk. My blood starts to simmer when I go to all the trouble to drive two miles an hour through the parking lot behind a gaggle of sorority girls who appear to be leaving but then decide to lean up against a BMW for what seems like the next hour to have a lengthy conversation. When this happens, as it invariably always does, I want to jump out of my car and scream.


They are so inconsiderate.

Another grievous, parking space offense that I often encounter is the person who takes freaking forever to pull out of the space I am waiting for. This one never fails to send me into a rage because the person obvious sees me in my car with the blinker on waiting for them to exit their space so I can have it. Usually I've stalked them to the space and have confirmed that they are indeed not going to get books out of the trunk, eat an Arby's Roast Beef and Cheddar, smoke a bowl or go to sleep. The person gets in the car. Everything seems fine. They even turn the car on. Sometimes I see the white lights indicating that the driver has put the car in reverse. Then nothing happens. I wait some more. Nothing happens. I listen to an entire Terry Gross interview on NPR and still the white lights are on and still the person has not backed out of the space. I don't know what in the hell these people are doing that is preventing them from driving, but I usually see girls chatting on cell phones and applying what has to be full stage makeup in the sunshade mirror. Guys will also talk on the phone and often drivers of both sexes can be observed messing with cds or hooking up complicated systems involving iPhones or MP3 players and a lot of cords. Sometimes they have to light a cigarette and smoke half of it before they can drive. Other times a friend will come and they'll roll down the window and engage in a forty minute debate about if the teacher in their last class was a bitch even though she was kinda hot but they were thinking about dropping but maybe not though because they need the class and they know this guy who took it last semester and still has his papers and yeah so maybe they won't drop, but they don't know. When I see this I wish I were driving a tank and could roll over and smash every last car in the lot.

One day I got the most brilliant idea of all. I would pretend to be somewhat altruistic. I would find a person who looked like he or she was leaving and then I would offer that person a ride to their car in exchange for their parking space. I was nearly blinded by my own brilliance. I found a woman who did not look in any way like a mass murderer and offered to drive her to her car. She jumped right in as if I were offering some kind of service to relieve her of having to walk in the heat.

"Where are you parked?" I asked.

"Oh, over there in the faculty lot. I'm a french teacher," she said.

And then I felt like it was me who was the mass murderer here. You see, I teach, but I'm still a grad student which prevents me from using the faculty lot, plus the faculty permits are expensive anyway and the student ones a free. Being able to park in the faculty lot would save me a world of aggravation, but it just isn't an option, just as dropping Madame French Teacher off right where we were and telling her to forget it, was also not an option. I had to drive her to her car, where I couldn't have her space and then start the whole miserable process all over again. I fantasized about my tank once more. One day, I thought, one day I will have a tank of my very own and then I can smash things that stand in my way.

Too often I will find a parking space and flower petals will miraculously rain down from the clouds and little fairies will fly over the space, sprinkling gold glitter on it and I'll feel like today is my day, when from out of nowhere some asshole in a lowered down Japanese car with custom painting all over the sides in colors which I do not find tasteful, with dark tinted windows and an engine that revs like a chainsaw, will dart around me in my long-suffering Saturn, and STEAL MY SPACE. Just like that, they'll steal it right out from under me. I can't tell you how many times this has happened and the cuss words that have issued forth from my sweet mouth as a result, which are, of course, to no avail. A few times I tried to yell to the offender out the window but they always shrug and say I was too slow and then something about being late to class as they sprint off through the labrinth of cars leaving me alone with the tick tock of my unfulfilled turn signal.

All I can do is leave early, hope for the best and count down the days until October when several students have dropped and a few spaces have opened up.


Dayna said...

I feel your pain. I attend a local comm. coll. and on the first day I noticed the parking lot seemed to have nearly double the cars than the previous semesters. Then I remebered, ah yes the beginning of a new fall semester. Give them a month or so and the # of cars in the parking lot will drop tremendously.
Our campus has lots of parking but who wants to walk forever to get to the building.

Fancy Schmancy said...

The community college I used to go to had a parking problem, also. I swear they had a racket going where they not only saved the money of building new parking lots, but also ticketing anyone who finally gave up and parked on the ends of the rows in frustration!

Chiada said...

Awww, man! That stinks! So sorry you have to go through that. I'd be steaming, too. If it helps, you could think of this in trying situations: http://bigpikchur.blogspot.com/2007/08/still-best-way-to-tell-someone-off.html (I just read it recently at Nothing But Bonfires.)

Melisa said...


... reminds me of my university days at FIU ... wow, am I glad that I finally graduated !!!

btw... I coined the phrase 'pee on the spot' (like the way a dog does). When you want a spot, you do that (what you described), pick-up a person and (here's the trick) BEFORE they get in your car, you ask:
1> if they are leaving
2> where are they parked
(if the above answers suffice)
3> Would they like a ride

...I am so glad I finally graduated.

Eric said...

Two Options

Chant "Doris Day". she is the patron saint of conveniant parking. Watch any movie she is in and if she is driving somewhere she will always get the spot right in front of the entrance.
Take the bus

jenni said...

i recommend buying a scooter. they're like a grand and you just pretend you're riding a bike and park accordingly. plus insurance is like $300 for a whole year.

JDogg said...

I have noticed that over the past few weeks the density of the traffic has eased somewhat as people are finding new ways to get to work with the higher gas prices, too bad it doesn't fix your parking.

Anonymous said...

I have decided that one day, upon winning the lottery, I will build a 600 car parking garage at the university I now work. I expect that people will name their children after me due to my generosity.

Kim said...

Parking at my University (in AK) is EXACTLY like that. Every single annoying thing you described we have the exact same problem. It's SO annoying! I have twice, YES TWICE, been hit by people who were very clearly waiting for my parking spot with blinkers on. Both times I started backing out, recognizing that they wanted my space, both times these people decided to pull into my spot before I was even all the way out of it, not to mention even being close to having the car righted. And both times the people said "Oh, I thought I could squeeze past you into the spot so no one else would steel it."

Add on top of those problems you mention the fact that 7 months of the year (so, most of the academic year)the parking lots are full of snow and ice- thus making the parking spot lines impossible to see- and thus rendering people retarded in terms of being able to figure out how far away to park from the next car- thus reducing the number of spaces available by half or more...

Oh, the other difference is that NO parking is free. If you want to park on campus you must pay $180 a year for the privilege of never being able to find a spot!

TK said...

Someone pulls that blatant steal my spot and then gives me BS back, I just may pull up behind their car, put mine in park, get out and use the tip of a pen or a key to flatten a tire by letting the air out of the valve stem. Not all the way flat, just about half. IF I'm sure they can't ID me or my car...

Manifesting is an old art, doubt must not creep in, and give the Universe a few moments to make the magic of what is actually quantum physics at work. When you approach the lot, you have to visualize a space appearing in a row, with no other cars in front of you to steal it. IF there are cars in front of you when you arrive, they WILL PASS THE SPOT BEFORE THE DRIVER PULLS OUT, because it is YOURS. IF a car actually gets a spot in front of you, YOUR SPOT IS NEXT (not will be, IS). If you use words along with the image they must be in the present tense, as in "I have the
parking spot for my car now". The Universe gives us what we ask for, and it's great at affirming our self doubts. If we expect nothing we get exactly that, which sucks.

Melisa has it right, "pee on the spot" before you find it, in other words, mark it as being yours and it will empty right in front of you. It does take practice if just to get rid of the ingrained "No, I won't really get a spot" habit.

The people standing on their brakes with the car in reverse are just petty and they are often pulling a power trip. Some people are pathetically self centered. Feel good that they are wasting gas money and wearing their trannys out early, LOL!

Erica said...

Ahh, I totally know how this feels. Our campus just swelled to 40,000 students plus faculty and staff and I am NOT equipped to deal with it right now. Also, what school do you get to go to that has free student parking passes? Unheard of up here in the north country! I just try to show up early and hide in my basement laboratory until classes are done for the day :)

Anonymous said...

Free parking!!! Holy crap! Parking is a freakin nightmare here and we all have to pay, students, staff and faculty. I'm staff and they just changed the status of our parking so it's $40 more a year. This is extortion and I won't pay so I'm parking further away and walking another 5-10 min to my building. I keep telling myself I need the exercise.

Fae said...

When I went to a Jr. College parking was always like that the first month, but they had campus police out directing traffic and allowing people to park in what would normally be unacceptable places. Then people who got paid to go to college would drop out after their checks came (about a month later) and parking would be tolerable.
I always manifest my parking spot the night before I need it and allow myself to be guided to it in the morning. It works 99% of the time. My friends always wondered how I got such good parking. :-)
As for the assholes that sit and talk or put on their makeup or whatever, when they know people are waiting for their space seriously, I want to pull them from their car and move their car for them!
At university one girl told me she had stolen a parking space the way you were talking about, and I looked and her and said "you're kidding right?" And she said "no." I asked her if her car was keyed when she got back to it and she looked shocked and said "no." I told her if someone had done that to me I would have totally keyed their car. She said "you're kidding?" And I said "no, I'm not!"
Parking is a high stress situation and one shouldn't fuck with another in high stress situations because someone's property is gonna get damaged. And I wouldn't feel the least bit of guilt.
Luckily all of us here are polite, caring sort of people. Good on us!

Sauntering Soul said...

Waaaaaay back when I went to the University of Georgia, if I had to work on a Saturday during football season I had to park my car out on the street in front of the housing projects on Friday night. If not, I would be unable to get out of my dorm parking lot because UGA would let people park wherever they felt like it on game days. People would park in our lot in the lanes behind cars, on the grass, in the entrance, etc. You couldn't get out of your parking space until hours after the game was over and everyone was done tailgating.

Now I pay $55 per month to park in my office building's deck and when I have PMS I leave notes on cars that take up two spaces because that is one of my biggest pet peeves in life.

kerry said...

One of the reasons I ride my bike to school, and am glad we have a bus shuttle. Parking here in Souther CA is generally a little nuts, and never free. Almost never free. Once in a while you find something.

You could park at something a mile or two away, and take a bike the last little bit to the school. It's always easy to park a bike, and a mile or two is really quite easy on a bike.

the Bag Lady said...

The parking spot stealing reminded me of the scene in "Fried Green Tomatoes"......LOVED that scene!! ("I'm older and have more insurance...") Tawanda.

MamaD4 said...

Ah, how I remember those days in college too. If you paid big money for a parking permit, you could generally find parking close to the school. If you paid so-so money, moderately far from school. Free parking was approximately 10 miles from the school in a gravel lot surrounded by a moat filled with snapping alligators, under a constant rain shower.

I solved this problem by finding an open, metered parking spot in front of the school and running out DURING class to plug the meter until 6:00 p.m., when parking all over campus became free.

Yeah, I got a few tickets.

Serenity said...

Several years ago I was watching some show like 20/20 or Dateline or some such and they were doing an undercover investigative report on the behaviors of people in parking lots.

What they found was that when people knew that others were waiting for their space, they would become extremely territorial and take as long as they could to back out of the space. They were going to leave, anyway, but it was some trigger in their psyche that made them think, "this parking space is a hot commodity and even though I no longer need it, I am going to keep it awhile longer."

Since that show, I've paid close attention to people in parking lots knowing I'm waiting for the space and the show was right...people do indeed take extra time...males do it more than females.

Not that it really helps, but I no longer get too angry, I just sit there, put my head in my hand and say, "Of course." Then sigh repeatedly. I usually have all the time in the world to out wait them and I feel victorious when they have run out of "things" to do and have to give it up.

Stupid victory, but a small one. Not that it helps you when you have to get to class.

Emily said...

Whenever I'm leaving a crowded parking lot, I always try to signal someone circling and direct them toward me car. I think of it as building up some good karma.

Green said...

My sympathies to you - I remember those days. The two methods I used:

1. Notice someone walking to their car, confirm they're leaving NOW, then follow them.

2. Find out when a slew of classes end, arrive in parking lot five minutes after that, swoop in to take those people's spaces. It may mean getting to your class early, but that's what napping is all about.

Anonymous said...

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Hykuw said...

I can't wait until October when people stop coming to class...
Students at me school all pay a parking fee that is built into tuition. There is NO WAY around it, even if you have no car or live on campus, so campus dwellers are my biggest pet peeve of all. Instead of walking or biking to class, they DRIVE the short mile to the parking near their classrooms.
I have to get to campus before 9am, nearly 2 hours before my classes if I want to find parking on campus that isn't on part of the comm.coll. that's across the way.

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