These days, there are few things that employees can count on, but most can at least count on there being a place to park their car.  Not if you work at a university!  The rules are totally upside down here.  You see, first you have to pay for a permit to park.  At your own workplace.  And it gets better because even then, you don’t know if you’ll find a parking spot.  As I overheard one student say, you’re not buying a parking permit, but a hunting license.  Good luck out there.

Now I realize that we have it better in many ways than bigger universities.  Some of those guys have to pay ten times as much for the privilege of getting their cars lost in a giant parking garage of doom.  But parking is supposed to be part of the appeal of a small university.  Sure we don’t have a lot of the stuff the big schools do, like fame, or money, or students.  But by golly, there used to be a place to park our cars!  Believe it or not, this was a perk.  You know, like how some people get a company car?  Like that, only lamer.  Observe, from our actual college paper.

This might be a problem.

And if you think this is a silly thing to get irked about, I’ll have you know that this is a major concern.  People get seriously ANGRY about parking.  I know because I work in archives, and this has been going on since, I kid you not, the 1930s.  At first they were just cheeky about the no parking signs, and took pictures of themselves posing around them.  Again, not making this up.  But then by the 1950s they really starting having problems.  Students would park directly behind other students, which tended, I’m assuming, to cause some STUDENT RAGE.  By the 1970s, when people were protesting stuff like the Vietnam War other places, we were protesting parking.  Because no one can say we don’t know what’s important here.  The letters to the editor in the college newspaper were much like slower precursors to internet message boards.  They would, honest to goodness, go back and forth for WEEKS arguing about who had it worst: teachers, on-campus students, or commuters.  That was some hot news here.

One time this student parked in faculty parking back in the 70s, so the professor parked directly behind him so he couldn’t get out.  I thought that was awesome.  They took a picture of it for the paper.  Again, I am not making this stuff up.  Later, in the 80s and 90s, students started parking at local businesses.  The businesses weren’t especially happy about it, especially one business that I will not name but hint it starts with Wal and ends in Mart.  Anyway, they tried all sorts of stuff to prevent student parking.  They posted signs.  Students ignored them.  They posted people in the parking lot.  Students tried to run them over.  Finally, they stuck carts upside down in every parking place.  I wonder which employee got that great job assignment.  How do I know about this?  Yeah, the campus paper took a picture of that too.

Circle the carts! The students are coming! (actual original caption)

But we must not say that the school does not understand the concerns of its employees and students.  They have been especially helpful in this regard by building new buildings over existing limited parking.  And there is always, always construction that takes up even more parking.  Also, they have steadily raised the price of a permit to park nowhere year by year.  Talk about a morale booster!

Right now, students are returning to campus.  Understandably, parents have no idea where to park on campus, so they’re parking everywhere.  Even places that are not designated for parking, but instead for pesky things like leaving room for emergency vehicles.  So until the students settle in and they start ticketing, we just deal with it.  By claiming our territory like predatory bears.  Once you get in a parking spot, you don’t move.  Ever.  I’d personally like to plant a flag and claim my spot in the name of Texas.  Hey, they used to get away with that crap.

But I bet you’re still thinking we’re making a mountain out of a molehill, right?  If only we could!  We could put parking on it!  Pave some of that paradise people, and put in a parking lot!  And for your own safety, keep the heck out of my parking place!

18 responses

  1. OMG I remember them doing that with the carts!
    At least here in the city you can take the bus or ride a bike if you don’t want to deal with parking. There are pay lots here further away from main parts of the school than your house is from the library there. A garage here vaguely near my classes is over $700 a semester.
    I can read blogs on the bus.

    1. Yikes. I would like the idea of decent public transportation. Of course I’m only five minutes from campus, but it takes half an hour to transport the girls around to their schools with the traffic . . . and yeah, I remember the Wal-Mart carts too!

  2. I think rickshaws would be the way to go.

    “I’ve got four minutes until class starts, and I’m parked 30 miles away! MUSH!”

    1. Excellent idea. Can you order huskies on Amazon?

  3. I work at a mid-size university in CA, and have to pay for parking too. We’ve been lucky enough they built two large parking structures in the last ten years, so parking is generally better. However, it is still silly to have to pay to park at work.
    One good thing is the university has incentives for alternatives to parking i.e. carpooling, van pool, inter-county public transportation, express line from the main city nearby. I currently live forty miles away and ride a bus. That costs me $6 a day versus $10 for gas plus another $5-8 for parking, depending on the parking permit.
    Hope your university will become wiser in its efforts to provide parking.

    1. Our school has tried carpooling in the past, but it never worked out. We do have a shuttle that will transport people from far away to a couple of locations on campus. It’s something, I guess. Ironically, I live only about five minutes away, but I have to drive two kids to two different schools on opposite sides of town in morning traffic, so it actually takes me thirty minutes to get there. Those are some good ideas, though. Thanks.

  4. I finished up a master’s degree not too long ago, and every Saturday, I had to park in some godforsaken lot and hike several blocks to my classroom. And the large campus was not know for its safety. I’d get weekly security alerts on my phone about muggings and attacks. What fun those walks were.

    1. Ah, yes. We all park in what we call “the back forty” now. When I was a TA in the English Dept, I lived in an apartment on campus. As soon as I moved in, they had the first rape in like twenty years at the university. My dh (boyfriend at the time) gave me some pepper spray on a keychain and I kept it with me while walking across the darkened lawns to my apartment. Fun, fun.

      Later, I forgot about the pepper spray keychain and laid my keys on my desk. A student cried, “Look out guys, teacher got mace!” I think I had pretty good classroom discipline that semester.

      1. Haha! That’s funny about the pepper spray. I, too, walked the campus with my pepper spray, but I never whipped it out at my classmates (or professors…). 🙂

        1. aliceatwonderland | Reply

          Oh, FYI, I am now on Chapter Five of your book – I am really liking it so far! 😀

          1. Thank you!

  5. […] ten feet.  Our parking situation is less than ideal, which you’d know if you’d read my post (No Parking).  So, since I get so tired so easily my boss suggested I get temporary handicapped […]

  6. My university only gave you parking if you had proof of a paying job. So interns, volunteers – out of luck. So people with jobs would often get a pass ($250 per quarter I think it was?) and then Sell the pass at at least double the price 😛 (I just learned how to create fake documents… #importantcollegeskills)

    1. See, if you go to college you learn financial skills! But if they sold their passes how did they get parking?

      1. I guess they didn’t need it? Or they probably just parked around the campus (which was a nightmare as each street had a different street cleaning day and so you couldn’t park on certain days at certain times, etc, etc)

  7. A couple of years ago, when we were helping my sister move into her dorm, we parked somewhere you weren’t supposed to. Others were doing it, so we thought it would be okay, and there really was nowhere else to go. We still had to carry stuff pretty far. Well, when we were finished, my sister had gotten a ticket. Wtf?! Why us, of all people? Were we in the special non-parking area? Luckily, though, since it was move-in day and my sister was a new student and all, they appealed it when she asked.

    In grad school, we paid loads of money to park by the football stadium. We’d then have to take the shuttle to campus. At my sister’s campus, they now make everyone who doesn’t live on campus do something similar.

    1. As much as we complain here, it is much worse on other campuses, with parking permits costing upwards of 200 dollars or more (ours currently cost around 50 I think). Then again, these are larger universities. Part of the appeal of the smaller campus used to be the easy in/out feature.

      It is always insane when the kids move in. Our university doesn’t issue any tickets the first week since no one knows what’s going on. Staff gets used to it. What gets me is when they park in what is obviously a fire lane! D’oh.

      We have a shuttle that takes us from the event center just off campus to the campus but it takes time – time to wait, time for the shuttle to drive, time to walk from where they drop you – people end up late easily. Right now, it’s not too bad a walk if you get there early enough – in good weather. It’s the cold and ice that concerns me.

  8. […] there is no parking except several blocks away from where I work.  In case you missed that post (No Parking) I also pay for this privilege.  Again, if I’m lucky, we’re now at 7:55 or so.  Then I just […]

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