First Person: Alums Share BYU Parking Predicaments
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First Person

Parking Predicaments

With limited supply and abundant demand, campus parking produces no shortage of stories.

Two young men applaud as a woman parallel parks.
Illustration by Travis Foster

A Parking Perfect 10

By Jana Bitton Lillie (BA ’89), Orem, UT

When I passed the driving test as a teenager, I figured I was done with parallel parking. Why would anyone parallel park if it could be avoided? Life has enough stress!

Years later at BYU, I drove to campus one day to take a critical test but could not find a parking spot. Desperate, I drove around hoping to find something, anything. No luck. Just as I was preparing to leave, a car pulled out from a curb just east of the Marriott Center.

Normally I would have felt relief, but I would need to parallel park. “You can do this,” I told myself. “You need to do this.”

To my dismay, as I pulled in front of the open space and prepared to back up, two cute guys nearby abruptly stopped on the sidewalk. They smiled, crossed their arms, lifted their eyebrows, and watched to see how I would do.

Focusing on what I remembered from driver’s ed, I guided the car into the open space. Textbook perfect! The guys clapped, nodded their approval, and walked on. I got out of the car, gave myself a mental bow, and headed to class.

Now That’s the Ticket

By Jerry E. Giles (BS ’01), Wichita Falls, TX

One Sunday on my way to church in the Crabtree Building, I noticed that my friend had parked somewhere between poorly and illegally in her rush to church. Seeking to parlay her liberal interpretation of a “parking space” into a chance to spend some time together, I found a fluorescent sheet of paper, folded it lengthwise, wrote “TICKET” on the front, and noted inside that the standard fine for this parking violation was a plate of cookies delivered to my apartment address. I stuffed it under the wiper.

That evening I got a call from my friend, saying I wouldn’t believe what had happened to her.

“Let me guess—did you get a parking ticket?”

“No, I got two. One for parking and one for displaying a counterfeit ticket.”

Needless to say, I didn’t get any cookies that night. I did go with her to straighten out the situation the next day, and the officer was kind enough to dismiss the real ticket.

A Runaway Parking Success

By Monica Peck Barnes (BGS ’09), Chapin, SC

When I was in high school in the early 1980s, my brother and I took diving lessons at the Richards Building. One day while driving to the lesson, we were heading north on University Avenue in the family station wagon when the brakes gave out. My brother frantically pumped the pedal to no avail. Honking and flashing our lights, we miraculously swerved around cars, over curbs, and through red lights without hitting anyone. But the heavy car was not losing momentum.

We veered right at Canyon Road and then turned onto 1230 North at the BYU entrance signs. The Richards Building parking entrance was level but then sloped downhill into the parking lot, so we would pick up speed again if we went that way. To the north of the Richards Building was the construction site for the new Tanner Building, with a fence and a closed gate. Figuring it would be better to hit the gate than other cars or people, my brother turned the station wagon into the parking lot and quickly turned left, aiming for the gate. Fortunately, the car rolled to a stop literally within an inch of the gate.

Even though the wagon was illegally parked, we left it there, went in and called our dad, and then enjoyed the driving lesson.

Two students play rock, paper, scissors out their car windows.
Illustration by Travis Foster

Advanced Parking Negotiations

By Bradley J. King (BS ’11), Seattle, WA

I remember circling the crowded Smith Fieldhouse parking lot one morning, my eyes darting left and right for the faintest sign of movement. Aha! Rear lights backing up! I threw on my blinker to claim my rightful prize only to see another crusty-eyed student equally distant from my spot with his blinker flashing. What now? I glanced at the clock, my mind darting from slamming on the pedal to “What would Jesus do?” Just then I saw my opponent slowly raise his fist and rest it on the palm of his hand. Eyebrows raised, we silently counted, one, two, three, rock, paper, SCISSORS!

I couldn’t deny it. He’d won fair and square. But I could think of worse ways to start the morning.

Saying It Like It Is

By David S. Brunson (BS ’72), Poway, CA

When our summer road trips took us to Utah, my wife and I enjoyed taking our kids to BYU campus to eat Creamery ice cream, stock up on gear at the Bookstore, and relive our college years. During one visit we were trying to find parking near the Wilkinson Center. There were plenty of open spots, but we weren’t sure if we were allowed to park there.

I spotted a campus policeman sitting in his car and pulled up to ask where visitors could park. I rolled down the window and said hello, trying to get his attention. He didn’t respond, so I tried a louder “Excuse me!” Still no response.

Just then, my teenage daughter piped up from the back seat: “Dad, I think he’s a dummy!”

Surprised that my daughter would say something so rude, I turned around and replied: “Becky, he may not be super attentive, but it’s not polite to call people names!”

With a sigh, she explained, “No, Dad, I mean I think he’s a dummy—a mannequin.”

Looking again, I realized that she was right. Sheepishly, I rolled up the window and drove off to find someone more lively to ask about parking.

A Parking “Stall”

By Teresa Casperson DeSpain (’84), Orem, UT

One day I was headed up to campus to take a final exam. I rounded the corner of Canyon Road and 1230 North and steered my red Mustang up the hill past Helaman Halls. I had almost reached the top when my car stopped abruptly and would not restart. Still needing to get to my exam, I set the parking brake and turned on the hazard lights. With no emergency lane available, I abandoned the stalled car right there in the right-hand lane of 1230 North and went and took my final!

Following the test and a tow-truck ride to a nearby repair shop, I learned that the timing belt on my previously trusty steed had succumbed to the pressures of finals week and failed its final exam, so to speak. I don’t remember receiving a citation for my unauthorized parking “stall.” Hopefully, the statute of limitations on this one has long since expired—as did my red Mustang 10 years after this adventure.