The Eternal Quest for the Perfect Parking Spot

IMG_1036To a UMaine student, the mention of “parking” inevitably causes perspiration, grit of the teeth, and the swelling of anxiety in the stomach. And rightfully so, because difficulty parking has plagued this institution since its first twelve students and two teachers couldn’t find a free hitching post back when the University opened its doors in September 1868. Parking challenges still persisted 100 years later, when rumor has it that Olympia Snowe, class of 1969, drove her Dodge Dart up and down Long Road, desperately searching for somewhere and some way to legally park her ride. And by the turn of the new millennium, the founders of Fill the Steins were racking up so many parking tickets on campus that they just recently paid them off.

Today, 150 years in to Black Bear Nation, it’s easy to tell people on campus apart simply by their parking situation. To spot someone who doesn’t have a car on campus is to see someone with a smile on their face, a grin from ear to ear. Not a worry in the world. This differs significantly from students who have their cars on campus. Soon after finding a spot in the remote regions of Hilltop Lot, they can be seen beaten down by the pain and frustration that comes with parking on campus. Slowly and painfully their anger toward their parking experience will lessen until they need to leave campus again, in which case the feelings of anxiety and anger will reappear upon their return.

And then there are the commuters. Indeed a sad sad breed beaten down by their parking needs. They’ve adjusted to the pain and disappointment of having to park day in and day out. They simply trudge to their classes, most likely late because all the spots were taken, knowing that they’re just going to have to endure the same torment tomorrow. The commuters are truly the post-diagnosis Walter Whites of UMaine parking. The University is so concerned about the threat that parking anxiety poses to the mental health of our students that Parking Services offers a hotline that provides updated parking conditions throughout the day (207-581-4636 or 207-581-INFO).

But just when you think you’re beat, the parking lots will give you that little gift that keeps you coming back. I returned from off campus commitments this weekend with my roommate. I told him “you know what Joe, I’m gonna check the spots right behind Cumby. It’s a Friday night, maybe some people left. Worth a try, right?” I was of course met with the classic “dude let’s just park in the back of the hilltop lot and walk.” To be honest I didn’t really believe we would find a spot either. But I insisted we try. We turned in and there appeared to be a spot just steps from our door…but we knew better than to get overly excited. There are so many factors that could throw you off – handicap spot, a motorcycle hidden in the very front of the spot. We got closer and saw no handicap sign. We were almost there and no motorcycle had appeared. Still no motorcycle. “WE DID IT. WE DID IT.” We pulled in and felt like the 2004 Red Sox. I fell out of the driver’s seat onto my knees, tears running down my cheeks. I raised my arms in the air as our fellow Cumberland residents came out one by one to salute us.

Ok, ok, that may be just a bit of an exaggeration, but the point is that you take the bad with the good. In the words of Nobel prize winner Saul Perlmutter, “the one achievement that everyone can look forward to is getting the perfect parking spot.” So praise be for our parking woes, because they only make our parking successes all that much sweeter.

One Response to “ The Eternal Quest for the Perfect Parking Spot ”

  1. Hey it’s the mythical creature!

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