The commuter conundrum

Al Valerio

It’s true.

Commuters contend with a number of potential obstacles each time they park on campus. If you park in North Lot regularly, you probably encounter one or more of these situations every week: The car next to you is crooked, so it takes extra time to park (or leave). Vehicles speed through the lot at 25 mph, making navigation of tight corners difficult. The parking lot is nearly full when you arrive for an afternoon class, so you have to park in Hogan Lot. Maybe you’ve even been involved in a fender bender. Unfortunately, such events are common in university campus parking lots. Though I’ve personally faced many such situations, I can still claim that parking has gone without a hitch for me.

That’s right. I’ve never once hitched a ride to my car. Chances are, most commuters have experienced this curious (and seemingly unique to Quinnipiac) tradition. Here’s how it goes in case you haven’t experienced it: a student driving a car entering the lot pulls up near you as you’re walking to your car. You are then offered a ride to your car in return for your parking space.

I still remember being caught by surprise the first time. It was a pouring, windy afternoon. My heavy-duty umbrella was in grave danger of inverting. As I walked to my car, a student pulled alongside me and opened her window. “Would you like a ride to your car?” she asked. I really didn’t want to impose myself on this driver, so I quickly thought of an excuse, and delivered it politely: “Thank you very much for offering, but it’s rather wet out here; I’m soaked. I really don’t want to muck up your car with all this mud. You can have my space, though.” Pleased with my delivery, I walked to my car and she drove after me in first gear, like a typical (but very friendly) parking lot stalker.

Over the past year, a number of students, usually female, have asked me if I wanted a ride. Each time, I’ve provided an excuse so as not to impose. My most memorable occasion: As I was walking to my car (parked in the very first row) a sedan pulled up. I already knew what to expect, so I gestured toward my car and kept walking. Then the driver rolled down her window. Without giving her a chance to speak, I announced that I was parked a distance of six cars away. In a hurried tone, the driver shot back, “Can’t you just get in my car?!” What was funny was the fact that this car was pointed in the opposite direction from my nearby car! I told her, “I actually have to walk in this direction.” (Had I gotten in, I would have been taken for a joyride around the whole lot. Talk about going green.)

Initially, I found this ride-for-a-space thing hilarious. I’ve been known to tell drivers, “I’m perfectly capable of walking!” However, when I thought about it carefully, it actually started to make sense. By getting into someone’s car, you’re telling the driver, “I promise you can have my parking space.” It’s an agreement between the two individuals. It’s also a potential way to meet new people. That’s something any commuter could benefit from.

I still have just one question: Where’s my backpack supposed to go? Never mind; I already made the decision not to hitch rides to my car, and I plan to stick with walking. Of course, your own mileage may vary. Happy parking!