And then I realized that anyone can buy those little orange cones, and that they are almost universally obeyed. So I dropped $50 on a set of eight direct from the same Chinese outfit that sells them to the DOT. Now, everywhere I go, there’s a parking spot reserved for me.

And if there isn’t, I make one.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

HOPEWELL, MI – Amid widespread Southern Michigan University student complaints over the new system in place to register for parking decals, the Hopewell Democrat-Tribune interviewed students and university staff for their perspectives on the situation.

In contrast to past years, when parking passes were available for purchase over a period of weeks, a new system was tried this summer. “SMU Parking Services told everyone that we could get passes on August 1,” said Misty Davies, an art history major and Delta Qoppa Gamma pledgette. “But they also said that spaces were limited and it was first-come, first-serve. Something about reduced parking spaces due to them building the new parking garage? So I went on their site at 12:01 AM and all I got was an error screen. And then it crashed my computer.”

“I was knocked over by the shockwave from their servers exploding, and I was half a mile away,” said SMU sophomore Wyatt Johnson of the outage. “I mean, they must have known that the parking server wasn’t exactly the Google Datadrome, right? What did they expect when 30,000 people tried to get parking stickers at once?”

“It’s a travesty,” agreed Deanna Cline, a masters student in Prehistoric Literature. “I’m a commuter student, and there are always more of us than there are spots. Even when I have a pass I have to circle the parking lot like a great white and stalk people with their keys out for 45 minutes to get a spot. And now I might not get one because Parking Services screwed up?” Asked why she would spend 45 minutes circling a lot instead of parking in one of the Remote Lots and taking a 15-minute bus ride to main campus, Cline would only say “shut up.”

Mitchell Sykes, General Secretary of the SMU Parking Services, defended his organization’s response to the crisis. “I can assure you, and everyone who might be reading, that there is no crisis. We have plenty of parking spaces to go around, and we have instituted a new phased purchasing policy in which every day this week is designated for a certain group of people to buy passes to reduce the server load.” Asked why Parking Services had not implemented a phased purchasing policyt to begin with, Skykes responded that there had been no way to predict that virtually all faculty, staff, and students would want to buy parking passes. “I can also assure your readers that there is no parking space shortage, provided that you are not an undergraduate, graduate, commuter, faculty, or staff driver,” Sykes added.

The SMU Parking Services site remains unreachable as of press time, producing a blue screen of death on Democrat-Tribune computers, in one case causing a machine to smoke violently and in another resulting in the mild explosion of an older Compaq. “Even though they should have only a fraction of the people applying at once, their system still can’t handle it,” said Edmond Wilton, a short-order frycook at the Grizzly Cafe. “I hope whoever made the decision gets fired. Out of a cannon. Into the sun.”

At press time, SMU Parking Services could offer no timetable for restored service, insisting instead that everything was working properly. When asked about advice for those who had tried and failed to acquire a parking permit due to the system outage, Sykes replied “Everything is fine. Nothing is ruined. If you can’t get a parking pass despite our best efforts, lace up your walking shoes, because you’re going to need them.”

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

When people are angry, they tend to overlook small details.

The other day, for instance, I was so angry at unannounced road construction making me late for work that I blitzed into the first available spot that I saw without looking, even though it was across campus from where I usually park.

My car was only there for an hour before I got a polite but firm phone call asking me to move it. It had a big fat ticket pasted to the windshield by the downpour I’d had to walk through, too. Ordinarily I’d fight the ticket, or at least try to weasel out of it, but that wasn’t going to work this time.

I’d parked in a space reserved for parking enforcement, after all.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

A parking attendant as wide as she was round waddled up to Reginald as he was opening his trunk. “Sir, that’s not a parking space.”

“It most certainly is,” Reginald dais without looking up. “It has lines and no cone and no handicapped sign.” Many of the other spaces on that level of the garage were sealed off with cones or plastic barriers, it was true, but that space wasn’t.

“Sir, that is not a parking space!” The parking attendant oozed closer, her tone more strident.

“It’s certainly not a bagel, if that’s what you’re trying to tell me,” Reginald said, hefting a suitcase onto the pavement. “Otherwise you’re getting into ‘this is not a pipe’ territory and I don’t have time for metaphysics.”

Clearly annoyed, the attendant gesticulated with her sidearm, a loaded walkie-talkie. “Sir, there is no parking on this level, sir.” Her idea of explication seemed to be limited to putting stress on different words.

Reginald looked at the parked cars to his left and behind him. “Then I’m the least of your problems,” he said. “Better get to ticketing these people who’ve been here a lot longer than me.”

“Move it now or I tow it.”

“Well, that’s a little rude, but at least you’re speaking intelligible English now.”

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!