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Parking choices and chances

By Glenda Buya-ao Claborne
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 5, 1998
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Glenda Buya-ao Claborne

Free parking spaces on campus are an endangered species.

Come spring, the city's Transportation Department, in conjunction with University Parking and Transportation Services, may be planting parking meters by every parkable space on and around campus.

Talk about prime real estate: not in dollars per square foot but in dollars per hour.

Bus pass, parking permit or free parking spaces? I chose the first option last year but when schedules get tight, the bus is the last option. The choice between permit and free spaces will soon be irrelevant, so I added my name to the long waiting list for parking permits.

That was three months ago. Last time I checked I was No. 211. The lady at the desk couldn't tell me what that means in terms of getting to the top 10 in the next three months. I figured that meant I'll be getting my permit by the time I'm ready to get out of the UA.

So I choose to continue playing the game of merry-go-round that goes with hunting for free parking spaces.

Talk about games of chance: the need to test one's faith in the dictum that the best things in life are free.

Some people park miles away from campus then take the shuttle. Safe and smart, I agree. But I keep this hope burning in my heart that somewhere on First or Second streets, between Campbell and Mountain avenues, there is a space I could squeeze my car into.

I know, I just know that there is a space somewhere where I can inch-reverse, inch forward, gentle-thud the car in back and front feeling like a fleshy woman wiggled into a pair of tight jeans.

If not a tight spot, then it could be a car easing out of parking just as I am beginning another round of my free parking circuit. I turn my blinker on quickly, announcing to all cars moving behind that that space is mine.

Of course, of course, there are days when I am not so lucky. There are times when I have made my third round and the only space I see is a half-gray, half-red one at the end of a line of parked cars. I slowly crawl into those half-legal, half-fire hazard spaces while figuring the chances that a fire truck would need the half-red space that day.

Probably nil. But I always move out of the space because I am not so sure that there is ever a half-kind, half-law-abiding parking officer.

So I move on and turn right on Mountain to the other side of Speedway Boulevard. I do not like that side. It has all those miles of tempting residential parking spaces so close to campus. One day, with no quarters nor bills with me, I decided I could be a resident of Helen Street.

"Just running in," I told and winked at a gardener working in the yard of the house I parked in front of.

"No problem," said he. "Haven't seen the police in weeks."

Really. Well, I thought, I'm not just running in then.

Three hours later, I went back to my car to find proof that Murphy's Law does operate, clipped, hot and crisp, on the windshield.

My husband, knowing me too well, quickly paid off the $15 fine.

I thought maybe if I come to school early enough, between 8 and 9, that my chances of finding a free parking space would be higher. Don't count on it. I swear, people must sleep at the library so they don't ever have to move their cars out of a nice free spot.

Recently, I find myself cursing at those large gaps between parked cars on free parking spaces. If any of those cars could have inched forward or backward a bit more, then that would have meant the whole world for people like me, who insists on finding rare things.

So I'll plug in a much needed parking etiquette here: Use Free Parking Spaces Kindly! Get as close (reasonably enough for cars to get out) to the car in front or in back when parallel parking on free parking spaces on campus.

We might have only three months to share those spaces.

Glenda Buya-ao Claborne is an undeclared graduate student and can be reached via e-mail at Her column, Sitting on the Fulcrum, appears every Monday.