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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Learn How To Park! You Are So Inconsiderate! Smiley Face!

Back in Minneapolis. There's a ridiculous amount of snow. And parking sucks.

I got on the wrong side of a snow emergency and had to wait multiple hours to get my car out of the impound lot. Multiple hours. Nearly three. And an hour of that was waiting outside. It was such a bizarre experience, actually, that it was almost worth it just to have the story. Almost.

The first hour (and this is at 10 pm at night, by the way) was, as I said, outside, and even with FUR-LINED boots my feet were freezing. The line was one of those lines that move so slowly that it seems as if it's not moving at all and how you progress forward seems mysterious and unlikely.

The lady in front of me had had a tracheotomy and talked by using one of those electronic devices that you press to your throat, which only compounded the surreality of the whole thing.

"I...want...my...car...back..." she said several times. "Just...give...me...my...car."

I sympathized. Also, she wasn't wearing a hat, which...what?

Once we got out of the cold into a makeshift covered waiting area, which was heated, the quality of life improved greatly, though the line moved even more slowly.

What was remarkable about the whole thing was that for the most part everyone was quite nice and well-behaved. You wouldn't think that, as we crept into the next day, in the cold, without our cars, having to face the prospect of paying a lot of money, that we wouldn't take it out on each other. But I think the fact that the line was so completely terrible, and that we were all in the same boat, and, to a certain extent, it was our own faults that we were in this situation (I mean, the snow emergency rules are confusing, but they're not impossible, and I certainly should have known better), combined to make us reasonably pleasant. Someone had written a note and hung it up: BE KIND TO EACH OTHER. NO ONE WANTS TO BE HERE. And for the most part, people followed this principle.

When I got the window, finally, the guy working there was even in a fairly decent mood. He couldn't read my handwriting on the form I'd filled out, and joked, "What, are you a professor or something?"

"Uh...yeah," I stammered. "Sort of."

"Really?" he said and we both laughed. "Why do professors always have such terrible handwriting?"

I'd actually never heard that before, though I'm willing to believe it's true. I thought he was going to say "doctors" since they're the ones who have the reputation for terrible handwriting. I guess professors do too.

I'm actually pretty confident I know why my handwriting sucks, but I'll explain that another day.

Anyway, I eventually got my car back. Here are two other parking stories:

1) Now, you can't park on the even side of non-snow emergency streets until APRIL. Which means available parking is cut IN HALF. This BLOWS. It used to be easy to find parking in my neighborhood, unless you came home past, like, one in the morning (if, for example, you were coming back from claiming your car at the impound lot). But now, even coming home at seven it's nearly impossible to find a place.

2) I've written before that parking at the University where I work is difficult to come by. I used to come to teach at an insanely early hour, meaning I could usually get a spot. Now, I still have to come early, but not insanely early, so parking is very difficult to come by. On Friday, even the metered parking was reserved for a special event. And I didn't have tons of time to find a spot. I ended up accidentally parking blocking a driveway. Which is awful, I know, but in my defense, the block where I parked makes it very difficult to determine what's driveway and what isn't, since snow basically covers all of it, the driveways don't occur in regular or logical intervals, and there are no signs. Anyway, when I got back, I realized what I'd done, and somehow I'd escaped a ticket. However, there was a note tucked into my windscreen wipers, written in cute, curly handwriting:

LEARN HOW TO PARK! YOU ARE SO INCONSIDERATE!

The contrast between the message and cute handwriting was so great that I almost expected them to add, HAVE A NICE DAY!

I also love how Midwestern all of this was: you are enjoined to be nice in a horrific line in the middle of the night, and the worst insult anyone can think to level at you is that you are "inconsiderate."

Anyway, parking sucks. And I suck at it. Please stop, winter.
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