August 21, 2002

MORONS. The Brown University Parking


The Brown University Parking Office is composed of MORONS.

I've rented a house from Brown for a year now, and thus I've also had to deal with renting a parking spot from them. I could rent one of the parking spots next to my house, but for reasons surpassing understanding they charge twice as much for them as for any other parking spot on campus. So I rented a spot behind the Athletic Center, two blocks away; it works out pretty well, since I drive only rarely. I arranged for the spot before I moved in, but since I was leaving my car in Chicago for the summer, I just took the spot starting in August of 2001.

Fast forward to this week. Monday morning, I get a call at home at about 10:40 in the morning; the number didn't come up on the caller ID, so I didn't answer, because I was still tired. They didn't leave a message, so I went back to sleep. Twenty minutes later I get a call from my officemate, saying: "the parking office just called here, and you need to move your car, because the lot it's in is under construction, and if you don't move it right now they're gonna tow it." I'm guessing they were the 10:40 call. Thanks for leaving a message, guys.

So I walk over there to move my car. And I have a ticket. Wtf? I move the car next to my house (which I'm not supposed to do, since I didn't rent that spot, but whatever), and as I get out I notice that my parking sticker actually expired on May 31st of this year. Wtf?

I had gotten no notices whatsoever. Not from the parking office, not from the grad school, nobody; not a notice of expiry, not a renewal notice. Every other business I've transacted with, ever, has sent so many renewal notices when my service was about to expire that it bordered on spam.

So yesterday, I called the parking office, and asked them what was going on. Apparently, the parking office sends out renewal notices to faculty and staff, but not to students, because, I quote, "they might not be here next year." Not, again, that that stops any other business in the world. And even for undergrads the odds are about two thirds that a given undergrad would want to renew (freshmen aren't allowed cars); for grad students, who are typically here for five, six, seven years, the odds are pretty damn good that they're going to want to renew their sticker. In fact, I would bet that the average length of time a grad student is affiliated with Brown isn't much lower than for the average non-faculty staff member---it might even be higher.

So how was I supposed to know when to go in to renew? Apparently, I was just supposed to read their minds. I'm serious here---the woman on the phone actually had no idea where I might have found out that information. She "thought maybe" that the grad school was supposed to send out info. (They didn't.) But I was supposed to know that I needed to sign up around April for a spot. The only currently available lot is about twice as far as the one I was in last year. She sounded as if she thought me daft for even hoping to get a spot in that lot after missing the signup in April.

So then she asks me where I'd been parking all summer (I'd told her about the ticket, see). I said I'd parked in the lot, duh, because I thought the permit was a year long. She then had the gall to suggest that I should both pay the ticket and pay for a year-long parking permit, retroactive to June. I said that if I were going to pay for the year-long parking, shouldn't I get out of the ticket? She "guessed" that I could contest the ticket in that case.

Anyway, today I went in and got a sticker for that four-block-away lot, without making mention of my conversation yesterday---I don't think it was the same woman, anyway. She only charged me for the academic year, so I guess I'll just go ahead and pay the ticket; at least I got out of paying two and a half months of parking rent out of this whole ordeal.

I still can't believe they don't send out any information whatsoever to students about how to sign up for parking. Other people seem to manage. How do they find out about it? Do they, in fact, "just know"? Does the University send out parking info to ugrads but not grad students?

"You've said yourself that North Carolina is changing because of a flood of Northerners coming in and changing the culture. That's great. I'll keep it in mind as a model for fixing the rest of Dixie." --Michael Kimmitt Posted by blahedo at 5:46pm on 21 Aug 2002

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