Saturday, December 12, 2009

What happens when my students own vehicles worth more than my yearly salary?

As I walked up to the front of the student residence hall at the college where I teach at 3:50 to catch the 4 o’clock bus to the train station, I noticed a monstrously large cream-colored BMW SUV parked in the bus lane. I wondered immediately how the bus was going to make it around it. Then I noticed two Campus Security guys giving it a ticket, and putting those ultra-sticky orange stickers(you know, the kind you need Goo-Gone or kerosene to fully remove) on both the driver’s and passenger-side windows. I just smiled at them as they went inside and sat on the steps waiting for the owner of this big, ugly, expensive, illegally parked vehicle – undoubtedly a student – to stroll out of the dorm, thinking to myself, This ought to be good.

After about five minutes a gaggle of three or four girls strode down the stretch of stairs past me, all aghast. The first word they all said was, “What?!” The next words were, “Can you believe they put a sticker on a $70,000 BMW?”

They promptly called the offending friend, who was out of the dorm within 30 seconds.

“What, I’ve only been here ten minutes!” she yelled indignantly, her vehicle parked squarely on the words NO PARKING painted in yellow on the asphalt. She then left the vehicle illegally parked to go into the residence hall and complain to campus security. The other students just rolled their eyes and continued waiting for the bus to arrive.

While she was gone, her entourage of friends kept watch over the Beamer, gawking loudly.

“She’s my teammate. We gotta look out for each other.”

Another rubbed the thin film of dust on the passenger-side door. “I dunno about this beige color. It sure shows when it gets dirty.”

“Yeah, her parents just got her this one. The last one was bigger, and black. Look at this!” She pointed at a single bb-size dent in the door. "Can you believe some asshole had the nerve to open a door into it, and not even leave a note?”

After a few minutes of this she came back and her friends scattered, the bus still not having arrived. At that point I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask the obvious. “Aren’t you going to move it?”

She looked at me triumphantly. “Oh, I’m getting them to remove it.”

“No,” I said, pointing at her vehicle. “You’re parked in a No Parking zone. The bus is about to come.”

She looked at me blankly, then rolled her eyes and went back inside. The other students, some of them mine, just shook their heads and shivered in the cold.

And then we all saw the bus entering the parking lot. It approached slowly, the driver obviously waiting for someone to move the vehicle. When that didn’t happen, the bus sped up, hopped the curb opposite the offending SUV, loaded us all in, including the offending driver’s friends, and sped away. On the ride, I couldn’t help asking the one who was her teammate what sport they played.

“Field hockey,” she said, “and lacrosse.”

“Good to know,” I said ominously, hopefully professorially. “So that means your coach is Coach _________?”

“Um, yeah,” she said.

Their talk then took on hushed tones, probably already formulating their excuses. Of course I’m not going to tell her coach .

Just you.


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