Last Thursday, I spent a miserable night lying under a tarp. I was in line at parking services to get a permit for my Cavalier.
It amazes me what people will do for the right to park their car. Earlier this week in the Muncie Star-Press, I read an article about a UniverCity speaker, James Fulton, who thought there were too many cars on campus. Though I thought his suggestion to shut down McKinley Avenue and turn it into a park was insane, I could not help but sympathize with him.
In New York, people ride the subways. In most of the rest of America people drive their cars. Indiana is a state of small towns, wide-open fields and plenty of parking space. It creates a mentality that dictates dependence on the automobile. You can't go more than a few blocks without stepping behind the wheel.
That's why students began converging on Parking Services around 10 p.m. last Thursday, even though the building didn't open until 7:30 a.m. That's why people continued to wait even as it started pouring, and continued to pour all night.
The tarp didn't do much good. It was still wet. After awhile so much condensation would collect, that it was practically raining inside. And it never stopped raining.
After about 3 a.m. I gave up trying to sleep. It's hard enough trying to make yourself comfortable on a four-foot wide wooden platform, but it's dreadful when you have someone's feet rustling up against the back of your shirt. When the office finally opened up, I didn't know whether to jump for joy or grumble in bitterness.
I'll admit, I'm lazy when it comes to getting from point A to point B. I'm not going to hold myself up to some idealistic standard of environmental protection.
In fact it seems that ever since I brought my car on campus, I've just been looking for excuses to use it (though I did find a legitimate reason when I drove to the Muncie Dragway, Wednesday, to work on a story about Ball State's sports car club, appropriately enough).
Maybe it's the three years of having to pound the pavement anytime I wanted to go somewhere. Sure, I was mad at Parking Services while I was waiting underneath that cold wet tarp, but no one was twisting my arm to get that permit.
I love the freedom of the road, and if I won the lottery tomorrow, I'd probably quit my job and take a year to do nothing but drive from one place to the next. Part of the American dream is owning a nice car. But sometimes I wonder if we've become too reliant. I've talked to people who try to drive their car from class to class. I haven't done that myself, mainly because I want to deal with parking services as little as possible, but the scary thing is I have been tempted.
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