George Orwell’s 1984 is here and is manifesting itself in our parking lots. The NSA might have our emails, our passwords and our phone conversations, but parking enforcement has our license plate numbers.
And they are not afraid to exact revenge on those who flout their new system.
It happened to me last week. I was having one of those desperate, rushed mornings where you press snooze one too many times, then finally look at the clock and realize class starts in fifteen minutes and you are still drooling on your pillow. Blankets flew as I leapt out of bed and scrambled for my backpack and the closest pair of shorts.
No time for coffee. Breakfast was reduced to half a stale granola bar I found sitting on the kitchen table. I looked like a feral child and smelled like Tarzan, but STATs 201 was calling and no standard of personal hygiene could stop my quest to avoid tardiness.
I purchased a gleaming new fixed-gear this summer and it had been my faithful steed all semester. But I needed more than the considerable manpower contained within my thighs if I was to make it on time. I needed horsepower, the type contained in the four cylinders of my beautiful blue Subaru. I needed combustion engines and carbon based fuel.
I needed speed. As Eleanor Roosevelt would say, “Hot, nasty, badass speed.”
The engine roared to life as I cranked the gear shift into reverse and backed out of my driveway. Class started in ten minutes, and I took the corners like a real life game of Mario Kart. Obscenities burst from my mouth when unsuspecting students had the audacity to use the crosswalk in front of me and I crammed a heavy palm into my horn.
I finally screeched into the library parking lot with mere minutes left. Shoving aside sleepy-eyed girls in sorority t-shirts, I sprinted to the parking meter and was greeted with two jarring new requirements.
First, the rate for one hour of parking has gone from $1 to $1.25. Fine, whatever. I fished another quarter from my pocket and jammed it into the fancy new machine. And second, instead of printing out a receipt and placing it on my dashboard like every other parking meter ever, these new marvels of asinine technological progress now demand that you enter your license plate number.
Since I do not have my license plate number memorized and I don’t want my parking habits tracked by some computer, I inserted an editorial statement beginning with a certain letter and ending with the word “THIS” in the space provided, printed out a receipt and placed it in clear sight on my dashboard.
I returned 45 minutes later, already pissed off at having wasted precious minutes of my life “learning” about the same basic principles of bar graphs I mastered in second grade. Placed under my windshield wiper, waving provocatively in the wind, was a $30 parking ticket issued at 9:04 a.m. despite the fact that my receipt lying — literally — directly underneath it clearly displayed that I had paid until 9:43 a.m.
The rage that contorted my face must have been hilarious for whatever sadistic, lazy bastard was hiding in the bushes waiting to watch the rewards of his sick joke. I will never understand the people who go to work for the Man, who make money off fines levied against their fellow students for petty offenses. I tried to flout the system and was immediately punished for my arrogance.
Parking enforcers are worse than Segway-riding mall cops, worse than the most straight-edge, beer-hating RA. Worse than the police officer who tickets you for going five over. They are resoundingly hated by all, and I hope they hate themselves too. There is no worse creature than one who turns on his own kind, and all traitors shall feel the cane of karma before their time is up.
I immediately drove to the parking office to protest this incident of extreme injustice. Assuming that I would get some level of sympathy or basic understanding from the office personnel, I presented my case to the girl at the front desk. She stared at me stone-faced. There are no jokes in parking, only paperwork, and she forced me to write an essay pleading my case after explaining that if I lose my appeal I have to pay an extra $10 on top of my ticket.
My case is pending, though I hold the moral high ground. Wish me luck.
Zane Womeldorph goes to school here. And no, he will not fill out your survey. Find him on Twitter at @zwomeldo. Letters and Feedback can be sent to email@example.com