I was going to title this post “Parking Wars” but then I realized that it is the title of one of those A&E reality shows.  I’d hate for someone to think I was going to write an article about that show, since while I’ve never seen it, I’m assuming it is crap.  Hardcore Pawn, however, I will most likely write about one of these days because it is awesome and so much better than Pawn Stars.

Oops, got off track there.

Starting at the end of last month, I have been engaging in a bi-weekly battle of wits, cunning, and tactical espionage action.  Wait maybe not that last one, as cool as that would be.  The fall semester started, and due to various scheduling issues and availability of classes, I am now taking daytime classes twice a week instead of in the evening like I had been doing since I moved back last year.  This change from evening to daytime classes means that I am now on campus when the majority of other people are, which basically makes parking 7000% more difficult and infuriating.  While the past two semesters I had no real troubles pulling into the parking garage and landing a spot, I’m now being forced to develop my parking shark skills in hunting, tracking, and waiting.  I’ve gotten better as the weeks have progressed, and I’m sure that by December I will be a parking master.  I don’t really remember ever having to park this aggressively.  In high school we had assigned parking spots, at IU I (eventually) had the “god” pass to let me park pretty much anywhere I wanted, and in Japan I didn’t drive.  I usually try to avoid holiday shopping so that wasn’t much of an issue either.  But now, I’m finally at a point in my life where I must park to live.  And by live I mean make it to my class on time.

The first day of class this semester I left my house with what I thought was plenty of time to spare.  I arrived on campus about 30 minutes before class started, and like a fool drove over to the parking garage next to the building I had class in.  5 levels of garage and not a single space.  I circled around a few times and figured I’d try my luck in another lot, one that was further away but still very walkable.  Not a single opening.  There were even people parked on the sides of the lot and on grass, etc.  The first week of class you don’t need a parking pass so I figured there would be a slightly higher number of cars.  I drove to the other side of the quadrangle, thinking there would be spots in one of the two lots around the student center.  Nothing.  By now I had 15 minutes left before class.  Frustration was building.  I witnessed people successfully stalking behind people who were walking to their cars and I tried the same strategy to no avail.  I even saw one person do the stalk, wait patiently for their claimed spot, only to be cheated by some girl in a Mustang convertible who appeared out of nowhere and hijacked the spot!  (Very ballsy, I’d say!).  What was even more ridiculous was that the lot I was now patrolling had a large portion of it taped off, empty and in plain view but unparkable.  I don’t know if it was for construction or what, but it seemed like poor management by the university to let a big area of a prime parking lot be unusable during the first week of classes.  The best way to describe my state of mind at this point would be the internet meme “rage face,” which I just Google Image searched and there are so many awesome variations I can’t choose just one.  Check out the search results yourself and imagine me making that face while creeping around looking for a spot.

After considering parking in a non-spot on the grass or even moving the barriers blocking off part of the lot, I finally landed a parking spot 10 minutes after class began.  Rage calming I went to class late.  Over the past few weeks I have refined my parking techniques through trial and error and haven’t been late to class since.  For a while I was using the slightly further away parking lot, waiting like a patient Chuck Norris ready to strike until I spotted someone walking towards the lot from the far-off school buildings.  Most of the time this worked, although it was a lot of waiting for a less than optimal parking spot.  It was hard not to hum the Jaws score when I saw a potential target, whose parking spot would hopefully be mine.

I’ve graduated from the deep sea hunting technique, and now I don’t even need to leave my house as early as before.  I didn’t think this whole thing through before, (I mean it’s just parking, right?) but now I have figured out that it’s best to get to campus and go to the garage around 15-20 minutes before my class, since this is when the previous class period lets out.  With that class letting out, it sends a decent stream of people to the garage who are going home and thus vacating their parking spots.  It’s not exactly easy, because the garage brings with it a lot more competition for parking spaces, and there are even people who stop their cars in the garage facing the stairwell, waiting for someone to leave.  I’ve run into the same girl more than once now who will wait near an entrance, yell at people asking where their spot is, and she then goes to that spot.  Unknowingly I was stalking behind one of her already marked targets, and when she saw me turn my blinker on the blasted her horn and yelled out the window “NU-UH! THAT’S MINE!”  So yeah parking is pretty intense.  Now I usually do a quick circle when I first arrive, and if there are no spots open by then I slowly drive around the main (ground) level for people to be leaving.  I’ve been able to successfully nab a spot every time using this technique.  Parking warfare has been an educational experience, although it would be much easier if this school just had more parking spaces.  Or less commuters.

And wow, yes I did just write several paragraphs about parking.