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Stuck in paper jam of ticket traffic with nowhere to park

F or this week, I had planned to do an extensive survey to find out how many students have received parking tickets while attending the University. However, I soon discovered that accurate surveys necessitate certain things, such as time and effort, which I clearly don't have (mainly effort). I found it much easier to come up with fictional results for such a survey. Here's what I discovered:

Percentage of students who have received a parking ticket: 98.

Percentage of students who have not: 2.

Percentage of students who don't like being a statistic: 83.

Standard deviation: plus or minus 98 percent.

This survey conclusively shows that we have quite the inspired squadron of parking ticket employees. The odd thing is the people handing out the violation notices don't seem to be the most aerobically fit people I've ever met. But man, they can cover some ground.

If you park your car for more than 10 seconds in an illegal spot, you'll get a ticket. I don't know how these people do it. They must be coming out of the bushes. In fact, I'm pretty certain one has been hiding in my back seat for the past couple weeks because if I even look at an illegal spot for too long, a ticket appears on my windshield and my tires are slashed. Also, someone keeps setting my radio to a country station.

It's not easy to avoid getting ticketed. You can leave your blinkers on and your doors open when you park and still not avoid it.

The only solution I've figured out is to make it look like you're moving into whatever building you're parked outside. I achieve this by always driving around with crates of books in my passenger seat and a carpet sticking out of my trunk. It's a little awkward when I'm parked outside somewhere like the Pav, but it still usually works. "Yep, just moving my stuff into Chick-Fil-A. I'm gonna be living there for a few months until I get my feet on the ground."

In order to get to the bottom of this problem (I just used that phrase in order to sound like a legitimate journalist), I interviewed a Parking and Transportation employee. Well, actually, it was just someone wearing a brown outfit and poking around parked cars. But what he had to say is interesting nonetheless.

Me: Why do you give out so many tickets?

Person: You see, if we give out a certain number of tickets a month, we can win prizes. I'm gonna get that tote bag this month if it kills me. I just gave four tickets to one car.

Me: Doesn't it occur to you that some students might have important errands to run, such as turning in papers, and they don't have time to park half a mile away?

Person: Yes.

Me: It doesn't bother you to give them tickets?

Person: Listen, there are two kinds of people in this world: those who run around feeling sorry for everybody and those who want a tote bag.

Me: I see your point. One more question: Do you work for Parking and Transportation?

Person: I used to, but they fired me for lying in interviews. Now where's that tote bag you promised me?

Me: Here ya go.

If you don't want to get parking tickets, the other choice is to ride the bus. I think we all know the bus is no trip to paradise. Being the excellent journalist I am, I interviewed a real live bus driver so that he could defend the University Transit System. His name is Jake Rubin, and sometimes I find him asleep on my stoop.

Me: Let's get right to business. Why do the bus stop signs tell us to have our IDs ready, and no driver ever asks to see them?

Jake: It's just for kicks.

Me: Is it tough to drive a bus?

Jake: No, it's just like driving a car ... a car that's as big as a bus.

Me: Sometimes, on rainy days the bus will be full, and it won't even pull over at my stop. Do you feel bad when that happens?

Jake: Are you kidding me? That's one of the perks of the job. I gotta go. Can I have that tote bag you promised?

Me: Here ya go.

I know I could never drive a bus because I get frustrated when I'm driving in Charlottesville. There are pedestrians everywhere; it's like driving in the middle of a parade. You feel like one of the floats - you have to go slow and it always seems like you have a marching band in front of you. You're sitting there, late for work, waving everybody across because you don't want to be a jerk. "Yeah, that's fine, come on across. You too. Everybody! Happy St. Patrick's Day! Go ahead, bring the baby in the stroller. I've got nowhere to be."

Of course, walking on Grounds is no easier than driving because if you ever have to go by the Lawn, you're bombarded with small pieces of paper by the brigade of flyer people at the Lawn tables. I'll do anything to avoid that corner. I'll be five minutes late for class and still walk in a big loop around just to get away from them.

You have to act like the Karate Kid when you go through that gauntlet. I find the "wax-on, wax-off" technique works well for swatting away flyers. "I can't play soccer! I have class on Thursday at 5! I already own 23 a cappella CDs!"

The other technique I'll use sometimes is to yell, "Look! There's a group of easily-influenced first years who are looking to get involved!" and then run in the opposite direction.

I shouldn't be so critical because the truth is, I've had to be the pamphlet person on a couple of occasions. In fact, I had to do it this past Thursday, and I felt bad for the people I was handing flyers to. I was mumbling condolences as they passed by. "I'm sorry. I know this sucks. There's a trashcan over there if you want to throw it away. I'm gonna kick my own ass when I get home."

I wouldn't mind it so much if only we could hand out parking tickets we had received instead of flyers.

Me: "There's a big show this weekend. Here, take a flyer."

Passerby: "What the -? This is a fine for $30."

Me: "It's yours now"


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