Friday, September 6, 2013

Parking v. Me

After living without a car for a year, I am both grateful and very frustrated to be driving again. Grateful because it's all but impossible to get around in the States without a car. Frustrated because that means I have to buy gas. Grateful because I can get somewhere whenever I want to with little physical exertion. Frustrated because driving is stressful and other drivers are mean to me. Grateful because if I'm two minutes late, I'm really just two minutes late instead of an hour. Frustrated because it's much easier to be a little bit late for things when you don't have to plan on being there thirty minutes early.

And then there's parking.

Thankfully my apartment has ample parking and so getting home is never a stressful thing. On campus, however, the story is entirely different. To begin, it's an enormous campus. There's a bus line that just serves the extended campus area. Walking from one class to the other can take a half-hour or more. As you might have guessed, a number of students have cars. And a number of students live off-campus and therefore have cars. And all the professors live off-campus, and therefore have cars. Is there enough parking for all of these entities? But of course not!

Now happily, as the recipient of some university funding, I get to be classed as an employee. That means that for a (rather high) fee, I can park in the employee lots, which are numerous and protected by a gate. I think there's more employee parking than student parking.

Before I could park in these magical lots, however, I had to buy my pass. I dutifully trekked over to the parking office (a twenty-minute walk from the visitor parking area) and stood in line for another forty minutes only to be told that the letter identifying me as an employee is illegitimate because it's a year out of date. Never mind that it specifies my program will take five years - the date at the top is 2012 and it's not good enough. So I go back to my department and ask for a new letter. First they try calling the parking office to verbally confirm my status. Not good enough. I need a letter. So they ask for a new letter. No can do - the dean of the graduate school issues those letters and is very busy right now. But one of the heads of the department offers to write a letter certifying my letter as valid. In record time it's written and signed and the next day I go back to the parking office.

I have ID, registration, letters, and a checkbook. I'm so ready for this parking pass. The man behind the desk inspects my letters, sighs, and tells me it's not quite right. He doesn't want to have to look through the letters to find the relevant information. He'll accept it this one time, but in the future, I need a letter dated from this year that simply says I have some university funding. Something that doesn't require him to look through anything.

The upshot is that I have my parking pass and have gleefully parked in the employee lots this week. Unfortunately the pass is only good for a semester, so I'll be back in the parking office come December, hopefully with the correct letter this time.

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