Friday, September 29, 2006

Perils of car ownership

(Or, really, I suppose this is about the perils of being a moron, and the additionally idiotic things that can happen to said moron when she owns a car.)

I have to admit that I'm loving--really loving--having a car. With the exception of the road trip that Babe and I took last weekend to Magnificent Landmark, I haven't driven any further than 30 miles from home, and I'll often go three or four days without driving at all . . . but when I do drive, it sure is fun to have a zippy car in which I can turn my tunes way up and shout along without worrying about the neighbors. I also love my three-day-a-week commute: it's open countryside most of the way, with lots of sky, fields of wildflowers, and the odd body of water now and again. Having a car has also been helpful in hauling stuff to my office and bringing home the occasional antique, and I confess to being girlishly gratified when the undergrads on campus have given me the "ohhh, NICE!" response when they see my ride.

But, there are inconveniences. Since I refuse to arrive on campus at 8.30 a.m., I've given up trying to get a spot in one of the lots closest to my building; instead, I now head immediately to a lot that's a brisk seven minute walk away. This is a pain on the days that I teach until 9.30 p.m. (I usually move my car on those days, since the lot is on the periphery of campus and the walk there isn't very well lit), but otherwise it's no big deal.

Until yesterday.

It was a rainy, miserable day, and I parked in my usual lot, hustled to my office, threw back a cup of mediocre departmental coffee, and went to my first class. Twenty minutes into the period, there was a knock on the door. I looked over, and through the tiny window I could see the purple hair of the English department's bursary student.

A bit miffed at being interrupted, I went over and opened the door. She motioned me outside until the door closed behind me. "Parking Services called," she said. "You're parked illegally in a reserved spot. They're going to tow you if you don't move immediately."

I had no idea what she was talking about--a reserved spot? I'd never seen a reserved spot in that lot! And it was the middle of the class period! But that whole "towing immediately" part got my attention, so I quickly made up an assignment for my students to occupy the next 15 minutes, told them it was "an emergency," grabbed my bag, and ran out of the building and into the rain at top speed.

And sure enough: there are 65-70 spots in that lot. Exactly one of them is reserved. And I'd parked in it.*

*In my defense: from the road approaching the lot, and then from the lot entrance, the angle is such that the spot itself is visible but not the reserved sign in front of it. I have no explanation for how I missed seeing the sign through my windshield once I was actually in the spot, however.


Oso Raro said...

Doll, you got off lucky. Just the threat of towing? Ha! As my friend Skanque Huore says, cars are just money pits, and they are. I took my Cookie to the Feminist Garage last week (long story, Oh Mary Don't Ask!), and I have 75% on my front brakes and 15% on my rear brakes, which means the latter need to be replaced before Cold City becomes, ahem, cold(er). It is, however, always funny to hear the mechanics compliment my Cookie, who is 12 years old, on being "well-maintained" (the missing part being "for a shit bucket")

I'm hoping the 15% whittles down slowly, as I can't afford it until mid-October earliest. Tickets Smickets! It's the repairs that get you in the end. My students don't compliment me on my ride (see above LOL), but do admire my witchy bumpersticker :-)

Simplicius said...

With 1 out of 65-70 spots reserved, this has to be a fairly common occurrence. I blame the spot, not you.

I wonder who it's reserved for, and what that person did to get it?

New Kid on the Hallway said...

So, did I miss what kind of car you got? What's your sweet ride? (I'm just impressed they called to warn you!)

Flavia said...

I do wonder who that spot is reserved for--I assume that it must be the director or head of some program or other, but what's odd is that the lot is adjacent to the fine & performing arts buildings, and the car that parked in that reserved spot once I moved was a big honking thing with an enormous US ARMY RETIRED sticker across the entire back window. This does not strike me as a car that would belong to, say, the head of the theatre department.

And oh, my car is a Mazda 3, the hatchback style. I call her Zelda the Mazda.

Anonymous said...

Oh, that is a wonderful comment to your story--I actually laughed out loud! Person who most readily comes to mind is R.L. Ermey, and, well, yeah, doesn't quite jive. "I am the head of the theatre department at this here university, son, and you _will_ drop and give me 50! This isn't 'Shakespeare in the Park,' dammit!" Just beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Good times, those cars! I am now commuting to SF every day for the next 6 weeks. 45 miles, about an hour drive at rush hour. Yeah it's in traffic so its less than entirely fun, but I look forward to it every morning (and afternoon).. a great opportunity to enjoy the tunes, feel the rush of driving. I am listening to Radio Suisse Romande podcasts every day to keep up on my french.. Don't remember if I told you the two people I work with are native french speakers so most of our conversation and emails and IMs throughout the day are french.

And it doesn't hurt that they're paying me to commute! It will help cover the cost of the radiator and other new stuff I put in my car today. Ah, nothing like picking the first rainy day since May to do car repairs. Oh well, it made laying in coolant MORE pleasant, because at least that was warm. But now my hair is sticky and sweet. Time for a shower.


muse said...

Hey, at least you found a parking spot! I find myself leaving the house earlier and earlier in the morning just to be able to park reasonable walking distance from the department. My parallel parking skills have never been so useful.