Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner bemoans the wrath that is brought upon him and his crew after he shoots the albatross that was circling around their boat. In the heat of the following days,their circumstances become dire and the mariner exclaims:
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
There are definitely times in each of our lives when we metaphorically shoot an albatross. We binge watch series on Netflix instead of study for a test. We pig out on ice cream instead of eating something that is actually healthy. We stay up late for no good reason and wake up groggy and irritable. Our actions have consequences. Sometimes we do something knowing wholeheartedly that it will bring ill fortune. We can’t escape the consequences of our actions. But, what if killing the albatross is the only option? What if there is no other way? Who should bear the brunt of the consequences? I am a strong believer that every man and woman is responsible for their actions and is therefore responsible for the consequences. While each person is, quoting poet William Ernest Henley, in a large part the “master[s] of [their] fate” and “captain[s] of [their] soul,” there are definitely times when the albatross has to go.
My albatross was shot sometime around 1:00 this morning. I got to my apartment late last night. There is permit parking that is available to those who possess permits. And there is free street parking, which goes faster than a pack of gum in a middle school. Upon my arrival, all free street parking was taken. Each spot was occupied down to the trickiest parallel parking positions. Although the supply of free spots was exhausted, there were several permit spots still up for grabs. I had inquired about a parking tag before I moved in and felt pretty confident that I would be able to get one, but that was most definitely not the case. Knowing completely what I was getting myself into, I pulled up to a spot marked “Permit Parking Only.” I sat in my car for a while before taking my keys out of the ignition. “I know that parking here will result in me getting in trouble, but there is no other way.” I could empathize with the Ancient Mariner there was definitely water everywhere, but not a single drop that I could drink. I fell to the temptation of parking in the permit only parking without a permit. I went to bed and really didn’t think that much about it.
I woke up this morning and went to get something out of my car. While on my way to work this morning with a container of fried rice in one hand and my keys in the other, I discovered that my car had been booted. It wasn’t one of those cute boots you see on infants. It wouldn’t look cute in a family photo. My heart sank and I honestly heard the sound of metal hitting the blacktop. The yellow-black boot was utterly, unabashedly, and absolutely unfashionably preventing my vehicle from moving. I was a bit upset, but I did what I needed to do to get the boot off. I called the company’s very expensive shoe horn to remove the boot. I shot my albatross by staying out too late.
College towns are notorious for difficult parking customs and laws. I love when I am able to safely secure a spot for my 2003 Acura 3.2TL, or ODB as I call him. There is satisfaction in knowing that your car has a home. I understand how it feels when someone takes my spot in a parking lot, or when someone without a parking tag prevents me from parking. I’ve had nights when I’ve had to drive around for an hour looking for a spot at like midnight and managing to secure a spot a good mile away from my apartment. I have had to park in a neighborhood I’m not familiar with because some bonehead without a tag took my throne. The throne that I paid for, mind you. I get it during regular semesters. More people are around which means more cars. There is a high supply in students with cars and a very limited amount of parking spots. It’s basic economics. It makes money for both the apartment complex through selling stickers and the parking enforcement makes money through tickets, giving boots, and even impounding cars. People need money. It’s a part of life. But, I would have to argue that the summer is definitely different. There are less students. Less students equals less cars.The ratio of cars to parking spots changes as a result of graduations and move-outs.
The summer is a time of relaxation, recharging, and regeneration. There is no better time to get things in order than the summer. People drive down long coastal roads with the windows down blasting their favorite summer songs. Kids are out of school. Everyone is outside. It’s a happy time. Or at least it should be.
Getting booted, getting a ticket, or even getting impounded impedes the flow of happiness during a time when excitement and happiness abounds. Everyone should be happy. Even the institutions bend on cutting students’ pockets and dripping their debit cards dry enjoy happiness every once in a while. The happiness of both apartment complexes and parking police comes from siphoning students salaries. While this is both awful and outright unjust, there should be some way for tenants and tyrants to meet in the middle. I don’t suggest being more lenient during the leisure seasons. I’m not an advocate for anarchy. Order must be maintained, and laws must be abided by.
My plan to pursue both the purse of the parking police and the public interest will be fair to both parties. Impartial to all who own cars. I hereby propose the end-all solution to automotive woes of students all over America.
With the institution of parking tickets, more and more people race to buy parking tags. It usually doesn’t cost that much, but due to limited parking in most college towns, these spots are finite. I feel like competition is very American. And I love America. So, the stakes should be higher when it comes to parking in a college town. Not only should the students be subject to the rules of having or not having a parking sticker, but everyone in town should be. It would create a friendly competition of who should lay claim to spots in the ever increasingly coveted car parks.
To make things interesting, each parking lot will be equipped with a keypad where each driver will input the current number of miles on their odometer for that particular day. If a car doesn’t have the requisite amount of miles, then the car cannot be parked in that spot. If drivers are able to get the needed amount of miles, then they will be granted access to the parking lot. No more parking stickers. Parking police will still be able to enforce parking laws, but instead of getting people for not being in the right spot, they will only be able to cite those who aren’t able to get a spot period. The police will be able to go around at midnight for 15 minutes and check who wasn’t able to find a spot. It will be like a giant game of musical chairs and hide and seek.
Along with this, to involve the whole community, drivers who are able to consistently drive the required amount of miles will be given discounts. Cheaper gas, cheaper tune ups, and maybe even coupons and VIP passes to restaurants. And for students, cheaper tuition and books. Sounds pretty nice, right?
With these incentives, there will also be penalties for those who aren’t able to find spots by midnight. If the parking police catch you driving past midnight still looking for a spot, they can get you and you have to pay a flat fine of $30, or a box of donuts for everyone in the car. You have to pay the fine before the sun rises that morning or else the fine is compounded. The money that is collected by the parking police will be used to build parking garages that adequately meet the needs of the community. Although this might lead to the creation of tribes and factions in the community and maybe even a civil war, it would definitely solve the parking problem. In a community like this, the albatross that we have to kill won’t be our paychecks. We’ll actually be saving money. The only albatross we would have to worry about is the OZone layer. Sure, by driving so much and using so much gas, we’d burn a hole right through the atmosphere. This might be a small sacrifice to make, but it’s definitely worth it. We might have a Mad Max: Fury Road situation on our hands if things get too out of control, but in the end if we are able to drive our cars enough to deserve a parking spot, we’ll be able to have a stress free summer, and sleep soundly at night knowing that in the morning, our cars will be safe, secure, and above all bootless.