On Thursday evening, I went to UMSL to visit an open house at the offices of The Current, the student newspaper. I was once the editor-in-chief, and that place will always have a special place in my heart. In fact, I was the one who presided over the paper’s move into this particular office.
Anyway, it was a fun short visit. Dave and Brian, other former Currenteers, were also there. As I walked out to the parking lot with Dave, I was confronted by a yellow envelope under my windshield.
A little history
I have a history with parking at UMSL. During my 4.5 years there, I never once paid for a parking permit. The parking fee had skyrocketed from $3.88 per credit hour in 1997 to $18 per credit hour in 2001. This price, to me, was ludicrous. ($18 per credit hour is roughly $288 a semester or $2304 for four years).
It wasn’t a problem in my early years. The Current office was located in a house across Natural Bridge from the North Campus. The office had its own little lot in which I could park without a permit. But after the office moved, I had to get creative.
My most common tactic was to park in the lot of the abandoned Normandy Hospital, which is a few blocks down Natural Bridge from the old Current house. But the university eventually purchased the property and closed off the lot.
I often parked at the Hanley MetroLink station or the UMSL South MetroLink station. Then I would ride the MetroLink one stop to get to the North campus.
There were abandoned storefronts along Florissant Road… When I was really feeling adventurous, I might park in one of the apartment complexes on Florissant, or in the neighborhood around Evarts Ave. (which also was assimilated by UMSL and the houses torn down). Then I’d make the long walk to campus.
I risked parking on campus if I was really running late. Often I got away with it. But not always.
It was a cat and mouse game — and I enjoyed it. The best part is, I came out on top. Over my 4.5 years, I saved thousands of dollars!
So, there it was; the bright yellow envelope. I was surprised they had ticketed me… I had parked in a “faculty/staff” lot, true, but it was 5:30 p.m. I thought the campus lots were all open after 5 p.m. But in any event, I was a guest who was attending an open house, not a student.
I tried calling the number on the ticket when I got home, but of course the parking and transportation department had closed at 5:45. I tried again the next day, and finally got through to someone. He wasn’t especially helpful, and wouldn’t let me do anything over the phone. I had to come in person.
I brought Jadzia along with me and to be safe, we parked in the metered lots at the Millennium Student Center. Then we walked over to the police station to try and work things out. Jadzia enjoyed the walk, as she could observe plane after plane roaring low overhead after taking off from the airport.
When I stepped into the police building, I was confronted by a little sign informing me that all parking matters were handled somewhere else on Florissant Road. Ugh! Now I would have to walk back to the car and find this other office.
But then came the blessing. A man dressed in an UMSL basketball sweatshirt saw my despair. I was pretty sure I recognized him. He asked about my problem and I explained how I was ticketed while attending an open house the evening before. Then I asked him for his name. I was right! He was the chief of police. He took my ticket and told me not to worry, he would take care of it.
So, I came home happy. But Jadzia didn’t. She wanted to stay and watch the planes.
The moral of the story
Kids, let this be a lesson to you. If you’re going to attend UMSL, you should rent a place in Ferguson — and bike to campus.