Have you ever guarded a broken bathroom door for a friend to make sure no one walked in on them sitting on the toilet?
I did a similar good samaritan gesture on Sept. 30, only it was a parking spot in the University Village (UV) residential complex.
It was a chilly Monday evening. I got let out of class early and was sitting on the couch of my apartment, devouring an acai bowl and lemon black tea from Tru Bowls. “The 100” was playing on television in the background as my roommate told me she had to drive somewhere but didn’t want to go because she knew she would lose her parking spot for the night.
“I can hold it for you,” I suggested.
She didn’t think I was serious, but I proceeded to explain to her the logistics of the operation: I would literally sit in her parking spot and hold it for her until she returned. She told me I didn’t have to, but I had already thrown on a flannel and was walking out the front door with my laptop, phone and iced tea in hand.
The Department of Campus Safety’s Vehicle Code does not contain any language that prevents students from physically holding parking spots for others. However, I did not possess this information at the time.
I waved her off as she pulled out of the garage she was parked in. I didn’t expect the cement on the ground to feel so cold against my butt. I shrugged it off, set my iced tea down and tried to connect to Azusa Pacific’s WiFi. I was pretty disappointed that my laptop couldn’t connect to it from where I was sitting, but I figured that my phone would suffice as a distraction until my roommate returned.
Soon after, several contenders had pulled in to attempt to park in the spot I had made camp in. Some would linger to see if I caved. Others would bang their heads against their headrests in disappointment. I gave one of them a half-hearted smile; partly because I was amused and partly because I knew the whole experience must have been infuriating. After all, they were given a taste of hope, and the only thing standing between their parking spot victory was me.
But I persevered and continue to stand my ground. I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel sorry for all the people who were struggling to park in their own residential area. But from where I was sitting, we were all in the same boat.
I thought I would make it through those 10 minutes until a white car tried to pull into the spot I was guarding. It lingered for more than the others did. I looked down at my blank laptop screen, pretending to appear unphased by the car’s engine. It took the car a while to finally start moving again, make a loop out of the parking garage and drive away.
I thought that was it. I internally cursed my roommate out in the hope that this would make her return faster. But the white car beat her to it.
It pulled in again, this time without the abrupt break of a rookie. The girls inside rolled their tinted windows down and started telling me that I was not allowed to hold parking spots for people.
Naturally, I questioned the source of that information. I proceeded to tell them that this practice is not forbidden by the residential guidelines of UV. I was bluffing, but I could sense that they were too. I played along with it.
After a back-and-forth, the only answer I could offer them was, “I’m sorry, there is nothing I can do about it.” One of them was on the phone. My heart skipped a beat as I entertained the thought of her residential advisor being on the other end of the line. But they wouldn’t let it go, and proceeded to tell me that my friend could go park in the East Campus parking lot and walk over to UV. That’s when my blood boiled a little and I blurted:
“You think I’m waiting here for fun?”
I guess my sarcasm did the job. They pulled out, and the very next car was my roommate’s. I relayed my experiences to her and we laughed it off. What I didn’t expect was for my one-liner to end up in the Facebook group “Overheard at APU” in a comment to a photo of me sitting in the parking lot, laptop and iced tea in hand.
I couldn’t believe the audacity those girls had to take that photo of me and publish it in the group. I’m assuming that one of them posted that first snarky comment, quoting my own. I’m also assuming that since they did publish the photo online, at a university with a community as close knit as ours, they intended for me to see it.
In the thread of my post, some called my actions childish. Others defended me and said I was a “great friend.” This one guy said he thought spotting was just for the gym. Ha ha.
Even before I sat in that parking spot, I knew I may not have made the best decision. But I was doing it for my friend precisely because I didn’t want her to have to walk in the dark by herself. Not all have experienced this, but it’s scary to walk alone in Azusa, especially at night.
Campus Safety advises students who are struggling to find parking in their own residential lots for the night to park in lot H on West Campus, and either take a trolley back to East Campus or request a ride from Campus Safety. But we don’t need to lie to ourselves. We know the trolleys are inefficient and take forever to arrive. And even if we do request a ride from Campus Safety, there is still a window between the time you made the call to when they actually arrive to your location.
This is the reason why I sat in the parking spot. Not because it makes for a good laugh or for the five seconds of fame I got on “Overheard at APU.” I did it because as females, we simply do not feel safe on the campus or in the area that our university is located. APU’s parking spot deficit, especially in the residential areas, certainly makes matters worse.
So instead of pointing fingers and starting a petition against people that hold spots for others (I am not the only one who has done so), let’s focus our attention on the bigger problem at hand, which is that APU is not doing enough to make us feel safe on our own campus. It sure makes for a less popcorn friendly discussion, but at least it will be a step in the right direction.
Updated on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019 at 9:45 p.m.
The following statement was added from APU’s Campus Safety vehicle code:
“The Department of Campus Safety’s Vehicle Code does not contain any language that prevents students from physically holding parking spots for others. However, I did not possess this information at the time.”