17 October 2006


I live in a small city. Our parking woes here cannot be compared to any major city anywhere else, however there are some interesting cars that have crossed my path in the course of attempting to park the car as close to the university as possible. A little introduction, however, before I begin. Students such as myself have the option of parking so that we have a 6 minute, 8 minute or 15 minute walk to lab. As lab is in the basement, during summers I love parking in the 15 minute area so I can enjoy some more of the sun and not be as pale as I am, right now when I tell someone that I'm from Africa, they just don't believe me and at least one European is competing with me to see if she can tan darker. Unfortunately during the summers there are not as many students and the 6 minute lot always has some space for my little Celica. During the winters of course, when it's -20 outside, the only space is 15 minutes away. Those 15 minutes feel like a lifetime in that sort of weather, especially if you are walking through snow. The other little-known aspect of walking through snow is if you accidentally get it inside your shoes (read: the snowmobiles have cleared the roads by stuffing the snow on to the pavements where they make little everests). So you get into lab and you are warm, and then there's a wetness inside your socks which suddenly makes it seem as if it is 2 degrees.

Anyway, cold or hot, I would rather get to lab as quickly as possible. Taking the bus is out of the question because the last one starts back at 17.00hrs (5pm) and my cells are late risers. Cycling is an option, but in the evening I like getting back to the GingaBoo very quickly and I don't like the uncomfortable seats that US bikes seem to be saddled with. (They are approximately 75% too small to be comfortable, without going into further details). At approximately 0700 the 6 minute lot fills up, at 07:20 the 8 minute lot fills up. At that point the only available space is in the 15 minute lot. There are certain times when the 6 and 8 minute lots have 1-2 spaces available. So I time GingaBoo's No.1 and No.2 so that I can start off at the correct time from home. On reaching the 6-minute lot, as I am too lazy to actually enter the lot and look for spaces, I just adopt the classic drive-by shooting speed of 15km/hr and turn my head sideways to the right to look at any available space. Unfortunately there are people who are even lazier than I am who have staked out the parking lot... they just sit in the lot waiting for somebody to come and move their car. There are usually 2-3 of these 'waitors'. They must be the children of either Bush's oil consortium or some kind of Sheikhs who are sitting on major oil wells because they leave the car turned on, read books or so while waiting for a space. being too lazy to join the waiting line, I turn to the 8 minute parking lot, hoping for better luck. Again, I do the drive-by, this time turning my head to the left. Usually, no luck, but every now and then I spot a place that the waitors have not found.
Adding to the torture of knowing if there is a parking space available or not are the 'walkers.' These people proceed at a snail's pace through either of the parking lots. Hopefuls like me attempt to follow them through the lines of parked cars without missing their soon-to-be-empty parking space and having it taken over by one of the waitors. Most of the time the walkers walk past all the cars and seem to be going somewhere else so the whole stalking game was completely useless. These people have gone completely out of their way to frustrate their fellow students. Every now and then a walker will in fact get into a car, and this is the mother of all frustrations, they will pick up something, give you a little smile and a wave as if they are visiting royalty and you are there to see them, and lock up the car and leave... on foot. A tiny percentage of the walkers will get into the car and wait endlessly with the car turned on. These people are not as frustrating as the previous ones because they will eventually leave (by which time you have normally missed your class). They do sit, start their engines, put the car in reverse and then all movement ceases while they commune with the car or spirits, or perhaps aliens. Again, their petrol must be paid for by the Saudi government. Either way, whomever they commune with have no idea of the passage of time.
Once I do find a parking space, it's quite fun. Some people have highly entertaining bumper stickers that I enjoy reading during the long walk past the lines of cars while the interior of my shoes slowly fills up with snow. One loudly proclaims, "The religious right is neither." Brilliant! Another says (on a Honda Civic), "This car gets 35mpg. Who's the patriot now?" A third has a cryptic "Impeach" on the back, leading me to wonder if the owner is talking about MonicaGate or the whole Iraq fiasco. A mysterious one says, "Don't move firewood, it bugs me." Upon closer inspection, I find that it is talking about the emerald ash borer, a foriegn pest of ash trees that completely destroys them. It is spread by people taking firewood from one place to the other. "Defend America, defeat Bush" is another popular one. There are also some nice cars on the way to lab, including a black 2001 Honda Prelude (whoever you are, I am very jealous), a very nice, new Honda Civic Si (again, whoever you are, I am very jealous).
So as I enter the lab that has been my home for the past few years, I am cold, wet, and slightly unhappy because of no sun, but I thank all the people who have entertaining bumper stickers and nice cars to look at for making the journey a little happier, as well as the waitors who are usually still waiting for a space (and thus allowing me to say, "These Americans are crazy. They'll wait 30 minutes for a parking space when they can be inside in a 15 minute walk.") We expats can tease the natives just a little... that's part of the fun of being in a foreign country :)


lova said...

Seen in 15min parking lot:
"Horn broken, watch for finger"
"Forget World peace. Vizualize using your turning signal"
"Jesus was a carpenter" ???
"David saunders for Congress" :)

video said...

Hehe... I've seen a couple of those "david sanders for congress! signs myself!
As for me? I dun like the fact that Grads have to park in the same lots as undergrads... they owe us better lots! we're higher up in the food chain. I refer to http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=701

Mosilager said...

lova "My boss is a Jewish carpenter."
"If you can read this I could hit my brakes and sue you."
"The vet - your other family doctor."
"Support our troops - bring them home."

video I think the Sanders campaign has kicked off, I've seen two signs around town and even an advert on TV. I think profs are complaining they have to share with postdocs so I don't think this will happen any time soon.

Amrita said...

I'm just astounded at the detailed analysis about efficient parking strategies...


Mosilager said...

yeah :) i come up with some amazing strategies when I want to avoid being cold... was just presenting them here, I think every student at this campus who parks on that side of the uni' goes through this.

Anonymous said...

lol! i can see the emotion put in this detailed analysis. :-)

my favourite bumper sticker in recent times
"The secret to a happy marriage: nobody wears the pants!". :-)

Mosilager said...