Sunday, September 7, 2008

The "Joke" known as Provo Parking Enforcement

I wrote this some time ago for my Freshman English class that I took Junior year of college. I enjoyed re-reading it...and if you've ever gotten a parking boot, you might too.

Let me know if you've heard this one. A blond, a brunette, and a redhead are all in a car. They park it in the lot of a friend's building as they quickly run in to borrow an Epi-pen so that they can save the life of a poor child who's been stung by a bee several blocks away. Upon returning to their car, no less than two minutes from parking it there, they find an ominous parking boot attached like a tumor on the wheel of the car. An hour later, a University Parking Enforcement employee moves more slowly than grass grows to remove the boot, charge an arbitrary fee, and shoot them a dirty look for inconveniencing him by having him come remove the boot. Luckily someone dialed 911, and the life of the child was saved, but wouldn't it have been better if the girls had been able to return quickly with the Epi-pen? Not only were the blond, the brunette, and the redhead inconvenienced by being booted, but they were treated unkindly by the person who placed the boot in the first place. Why does this occur so frequently in Provo? Why booting? I feel that University Parking Enforcement employees place boots on cars and treat people unkindly because they believe in cruel and unusual punishment, they dislike their jobs, and they feel no charity towards their fellow students.

How can I make such a claim, you may ask, as to suggest that the employees favor cruel and unusual punishment? Simply defined, cruel and unusual punishment is any punishment that is inhumane or violates basic human dignity. What part of placing a giant, and by no means inconspicuous, metal boot on my car that renders it immobile does not violate basic human dignity? Everyone can see the boot. This is distressing, and uncomfortable. But despite the discomfort of the parking boot, it also is a violation of basic property rights. I spent eleven thousand dollars on my car. What makes it all right for any individual to immobilize my vehicle? What laws govern these parking lots? How can anyone be wholly aware of the restrictions on any particular parking lot? I suggest that there's no way to know which arbitrary rules are going to be enforced, not to mention how or when said enforcement will occur. The parking lot at my building has posted signs stating that people who park there without the proper stickers will be booted or towed. When I called University Parking Enforcement on the Fourth of July to ask them to boot or tow people from the lot, they informed me that they weren't going to be booting or towing that day. What use is this company if they aren't even going to protect the residents? Who gave the "booters" supreme authority over certain parking spaces? These are all questions that I have been unable to find the answers to.

Among other things, I find it cruel and unusual to use extortion tactics on anyone. If a booter can place and remove a boot in half an hour, then the company earns a whopping one hundred dollars an hour. Is it worth it? BYU uses green parking tickets that cost twenty dollars, and do not render the vehicle immobile, and they are effective. Most students can barely afford to pay the BYU parking ticket, and the University Parking Enforcement boot is more than twice the cost. Let me play out a scenario for you. What if I leave my apartment to go to work, and find a parking boot on my car? Let's say it takes the company forty-five minutes to arrive there, and then fifteen minutes to remove the boot. This means that I have lost not only fifty dollars that I can never get back, but I have also lost an hour of work, which means that hour's wages, and am no longer in good graces with my employer. It seems to me that University Parking Enforcement is destroying our liberty one boot at a time.

Now when someone does something as cruel as booting, they are not likely to feel good about themselves. This snowballs into a dangerous situation that ends in transferrence of anger to those who have been booted. When a car is booted, a paper is placed on their window that says something along the lines of, "Warning: You've been booted." This paper is attatched with tape. When a friend of mine discovered a boot on her car, she pulled the piece of paper off of the window, and found that the tape wouldn't come off. Just as the booter was leaving, we sent another friend of ours to ask the booter to remove the tape from the window; he promptly began cursing at our friend, and suggesting that they fight. All we wanted was for the tape to be removed from the window. Our friend gave up the fight, not wanting it to come to blows, and as he walked away, behind the booter's car, the booter put his car in reverse, and sped towards my friend. Realizing what he'd done just before hitting my friend, he put the car in drive and sped away. This leads us to another problem with University Parking Enforcement. Obviously the employees have an unresolved anger issue they need to work out: they hate their jobs, and as a result, are lashing out at unsuspecting extorted individuals. In our society, it's easy to suggest that we "kill them with kindness," a very simple strategy that would involve me keeping a fresh homemade batch of cookies in my car, and leaving them on the hood whenever I think there's a chance of being booted. This strategy, would be effective, and I suggest that as I begin to do this, you all follow suit. Now I'm not saying that they deserve homemade cookies for their cruelty, but sometimes there's no choice other than to be the bigger person.

This booting process is contrary to gospel principles. We live in a community that is predominantly LDS, and as a result, should be able to expect to be treated in ways that can peacefully coexist with gospel living. We are not a church that believes in public embarrassment, in taking money from the poor, or in lashing out in anger at those around us. These are all things that occur as a result of booting, not to mention provoking our neighbors to anger. What they do as a company is not only unfair, unjust, and frustrating, it's just plain wrong. There's not a person who deserves to have the pain of booting. What University Parking Enforcement needs is a lot more charity. I understand that charity is not a profitable business, and that they would have to make their livelihood somewhere else, but the rewards can be seen on all sides. The citizens of Provo would be happier, the booters would be happier because they'd be doing what was right, and as a result, the booters and civilians could live in harmony.

I do suggest that we are victims of cruelty. It is nearly impossible to describe the injustice of booting, but if you've ever found your car with a parking boot on it, you will understand. You'll understand the sinking feeling you get when you discover the boot, the fire that emerges as you realize the cost of the boot, and lastly, the enduring bad mood that generally follows any booting experience. The knowledge that you've just lost all of the money that it takes to buy groceries for two weeks. Two weeks! "It's all right," you'll tell yourself, "I was trying to lose weight anyway." This fallacy will keep us thinking that it's really our fault, and that we deserved the boot. This battered wife syndrome allows the booters power that they don't deserve, and abuses the common man. No number of tears is going to end the parking tyrrany. It's time for action. Write the local government. And, if we all park in only unmarked parking spaces for just one month, University Parking enforcement will lose hundreds of dollars.

So our joke was missing a punch line. What ever happened to the blonde, the brunette and the redhead? Well, they contested the boot, and received no reimbursement after a long and miserable month of trying to get the money back. Not very funny, is it? That's because parking enforcement isn't a joke. It's a pain.


anne said...

i LOVE it!!i know the pain of booting all too well, especially after i got booted in the vary parking lot that my parking sticker was about feeling like i was going to explode! needless to say, the booter got a huge piece of my mind. he even managed to sneak the boot off and tape an apology note to my window before i went back outside...haha. i swear he told me to met him in the parking lot a couple of minutes later than he planned on taking to get the boot off in order to avoid my wrath. it was kind of awesome, because i was in no way at fault.
anyway - adrienne, how the heck are you?! when are you getting married?

UPEfanclub said...

I feel your pain. My daughter was towed from Regency, in her own lot, for having her wheels slightly outside the lines of the parking stall. Displayed two years of parking permit decals. It made no difference.

As out-of-state Mormons we feel truly outraged the Utah law is permitting this to happen. I can go on and on about this another time if you wish. It boils down to officially sanctioned extortion, racketeering, and violation of interstate commerce. A job for the FBI. I am in the process of communicating with anybody I can think of, to combat this outrage.

Take care.

University Parking Sucks said...

I loved your post. I just started a new blog called "University Parking Enforcement Sucks". If you have a bad experience that you'd like to share about University Parking Enforcement, you should go to or email your experience to to have it posted.

James said...

Please let everyone know that there is a Facebook group for this as well.