>>> The Rollercoaster of Drama
By staff writer Simonne Cullen
March 6, 2005

No matter what university you go to, private or public, or how many students there are, fifty thousand or twelve hundred, one thing is for sure: not one school anywhere has ample parking. Parking spaces are like endangered species, there's not many left, the ones that are hunted down for their value and even then they're not in great shape, and no matter how much you pay for them a semester to preserve/reserve them, it's pointless because parking spaces are like pandas. They rarely reproduce. So it's a really big deal when a new one comes along…every five years or so…just enough to keep the population up and the school charging you black market retail for a spot.

So a couple years ago Lawrence built a new dorm for upperclassmen. It's a super nice dorm. Sometimes when I see my friends give tours to prospective students all the parents are impressed with it. Too bad they don't do a substantial tour through the ghetto (underclassmen dorms) that their kids have to live in their first two years. Getting back to the heaven that is Hiett Hall. It holds about 200 upperclassmen. Do you know how many parking spaces are available? Twenty-five. Granted everything gets built by the lowest bidder, but twenty-five parking spaces? Did the person who designed this building truly believe that only twenty-five juniors and seniors drove up here and the other hundred and seventy five would be coming by way of river raft and that's why they built the parking lot right next to the river?

“You can tell who your life-long friends are when they sign your contract saying they will replace the car entirely if they smash it up.”

Recently on a weekend trip to the University of Tennessee to visit my best friend Amanda, I discovered that the parking department there is even more corrupt than here. Lawrence will sell you a spot for fifty bucks a term and you're guaranteed a spot. At UT-Knoxville they have something like three hundred parking spots available, and they sell the same spot to two people. So while you would be competing for a good spot with three hundred people, the Don of the Parking Spot mafia doubled it. So if you want a spot you can't go out before 10 in the morning or after 6 at night and the weekends? Forget about it. If you got a space, your car acts like cement shoes in the Black Sea of broken asphalt because you'd rather take a cab than move your car.

I don't know what is up with security this year, but they are not tolerating any student vehicles in the faculty lot. Lawrence has no mercy on even their faculty because I've seen their cars get towed too. It wouldn't be such a big deal to park in the YMCA lot, if this were, I don't know, Florida where the weather was nice and sunny, but walking three blocks in negative degrees, plus the wind chill, add blinding snow, and you'll realize it's worth risking being towed. Until the next morning when you realize that you and about twenty of your friends got towed overnight and no one can drive you to the tow truck place because everyone you know has been towed.

I think the school and the tow truck company are in cahoots with each other. Someone calls them up and says, “We got twenty cars illegally parked for you to take. Charge them a hundred each to get it back and we split the profit.” It can't cost that much to tow a car for chrissakes! OH and let's not forget the thirty dollar holding fee they slap onto the end of the bill as well. I went in with a friend one day to see an acquaintance of mine arguing with the tow truck manager guy that his car wasn't even worth the hundred and fifty dollars he had to pay to get it back. He seriously left his car there—admittedly it was in pretty bad shape—and we all watched him unicycle his way around the rest of the year.

So like most schools Lawrence students get their spots by seniority, but if you get three parking tickets in one term you're ineligible to be in the lottery the rest of the year. So there are two seniors who have been excommunicated from the rest of the herd and they have to park in what they idiotically refer to as the VIP senior lot. Which is two blocks closer to their dorm than the YMCA parking lot, but still ten solid walking minute away. There my other best friend Casey and I park in front of a bunch of family homes on the street that only can accommodate four cars at also doesn't ticket when someone parks there between the hours of 2 to 5 in the morning. VIP my ass. If it were really VIP we'd park there and have someone drive us the three blocks and carry us up the stairs to our rooms, while singing and perhaps providing a light snack along the way.

So let's talk about parking tickets for a second. I know that there are some out-of-staters out there who believe that just because their license plates are from a different state than the one they go to school in, they have immunity from ever having to pay a fine. Which is the most illogical thing I have ever heard next to Paris Hilton becoming a serious actress in that horror film about human candles. Anyway point is, if you ever get pulled over for a minor infraction and there's a history of you not paying all those tickets then your car will get impounded and you'll be charged double whatever the original ticket was. I know one guy who was seriously two thousand dollars in the hole. There is no immunity from parking tickets because the cops are in cahoots too.

Have you ever had someone borrow your car, park it in a tow zone, get it towed, and then refuse to pay for it because it's not their car? Does that person realize that they will never be driven anywhere again and more than likely be pulled around by a string on rollerblades by unicycle boy the rest of their lives? Does anyone really want that friendship over a Honda Civic?

Why do all Asian people in big cities pimp out Honda Civics? I don't know about you but when I got my handed down first used car the first thing that didn't go running through my mind was…how about I pimp this minivan baby out and put on a new double wide muffler and some sweet rims along the sides of the trunk?

Lending out your car is such a big deal in college. You can always tell who your real friends are when they offer you gas money or buy you dinner for driving. But you can tell who your life-long friends are when they sign the contract you whipped up which says paragraph nine sentence six that they will replace the car entirely if they smash it up. Am I putting a price on friendship? You're goddamn right. If you're lending out your once twenty thousand dollar pimped out ride you're going to want to get a new one back in the event of a crash even though you'll have no place to park it and no money to fill it with gas because updated your ticket bill and splurged on the small truck muffler.


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