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The perils of parking at Palomar: a first-person account

December 3, 2014, San Marcos, Calif. Overcrowding in parking lot. Photo by Paul Nelson|The Telescope
December 3, 2014, San Marcos, Calif. Overcrowding in parking lot. Photo by Paul Nelson|The Telescope

As we all know, finding parking at Palomar College is a daily struggle for students. We all seem to acquire infamous parking nightmare stories at one point or another in our careers here. This story is not only highly relatable, but also explanatory of the parking issue that needs to be addressed more seriously.

9:32 a.m.: You arrive on campus already two minutes late to your 9:30 a.m. class. You longingly reminisce about those carefree, less sleep-deprived days of summer and wonder for the thousandth time what could possibly have inspired you to sign up for a math class that starts at the prime parking time. If you could just find a parking space quickly now, you think, maybe you will only miss the first ten minutes. Haha … yeah, right. You turn down the first aisle in Lot 11 and begin the hunt.

9:36 a.m.: You see a parked car with its lights on ahead. Yes! They must be pulling out! And the space is close to the crosswalk! You race forward and click on your turn signal to claim the space before anyone else can beat you to it. It must be your lucky day, you think to yourself.

9:41 a.m.: …Or not. The car’s lights have been on for who knows how long, and you just wasted five precious minutes of class time idling in the aisle when there are no other signs to indicate that the car is going anywhere anytime soon. For all you know, the person in the car could be taking her daily nap between classes. With a sigh of frustration, you click off your turn signal and move on to the next aisle.

9:43 a.m.: You see a student walking down the next aisle at a determined pace. His expression is comparable to someone who has just been freed from a hostage situation. You know that feeling all too well and you think it’s safe to assume that he’s done attending classes for the day. You slow your speed to four miles per hour and trail along behind him to follow him to his car.

9:44 a.m.: You feel like a lion stalking its prey, as you are becoming kind of desperate for a parking space. When you left your house, you knew you were going to be late…just not THIS late. The student that you have been following has taken several glances over his shoulder at you and they are beginning to show some suspicion. You realize that you must look like a creeper. Really, though, can’t this guy walk any faster? Then you wouldn’t have to inch down the aisle behind him like a stalker. You consider offering him a ride to his car to speed him up. Sometimes it works, and sometimes a flash of alarm crosses the student’s face before he politely declines your potentially creepy offer. You disregard any old lessons from your parents about not talking to strangers, pull up next to the guy, roll down your windows, and go in for the kill.

9:45 a.m.: Unfortunately, the student declined. You zoom down to the end of the aisle and wait for a long line of oncoming cars to pass. Finding a good parking space at Palomar is kind of like winning the lottery, you think to yourself. You turn after the last car rolls by and decide to try your luck down the next aisle.

9:48 a.m.: You experience an overwhelming case of deja vu. Haven’t you driven down this aisle already? Didn’t you just pass that student, too? You glance at the clock and consider just skipping your class altogether. By the time you find a parking space, class will be half over anyway. Yes, it’s tempting…but then you remember that your professor promised you a grade-altering quiz at the end of class.

9:50 a.m.: You hear a car engine start in the next aisle. SOMEONE IS LEAVING! You lunge forward to the end of the aisle and prepare to turn, but an oncoming car cuts you off and proceeds to turn down the Promised Aisle. Well, there goes your space.

9:51 a.m.: You decide to turn into the aisle anyway. You think your morning has already determined that your entire day will be luckless, but maybe, just maybe, there will be another vacant space in the aisle. And if you see another student, you could always stalk them and …WAIT IS THAT PERSON LEAVING?! She appears to be taking her backpack out of her trunk…or is she putting it in before she pulls out and leaves a vacant parking space in her wake?! Once again, you click on your turn signal to claim the space. The student looks up and crushes your hopes with a shy smile and shake of her head to indicate that she is not leaving anytime soon.

9:56 a.m.: You’re nearly ready to give up. Before you leave campus, you decide to try your luck at the far end of the lot, just in case. It’s a ten-minute walk to class from there, but maybe you will have a better chance finding parking in the blue yonder. The exercise couldn’t hurt either, since this week you’ve downed enough Java City coffees, Subway sandwiches, and unhealthy treats from the Snack Shack to guarantee your survival in an epic world famine.

10:01 a.m.: This is it. The very last row. You tell yourself that if you don’t find a space in this row, you are actually going to leave the campus. What else can you do? There’s literally nowhere to park! But then you see it. Two cars in from the end of the aisle on the left hand side … A PARKING SPACE! Your car frantically leaps forward and, at long last, you shift into park. Whew, that was exhausting, you think to yourself. You’re ready for a mid-morning nap…too bad you still have to go to class.

10:12 a.m.: You finally arrive at class. And then you notice one of those gold papers that someone always puts on the door of a classroom when class has been canceled for the day. Seriously?! You try not to think about the parking ordeal that you just endured, and how it ended up being all for nothing. Oh, well … at least now you’ve got a parking space and a quiet place to take a nap while you wait for your next class.

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