Not a tale of woe, but of caution

Zach Petroff | Opinions Editor | This is the spot where Zach Petroff parked his vehicle late last semester, it is quite clear this is not a parking spot.

Zach Petroff | Opinions Editor

Jan. 19, 2023

Nothing quite jolts the system like waking up with sheer panic.

The time read 7:47 a.m. on my phone as I sped down the Boulevard of the Allies. I felt like a native Pittsburgher as I weaved through traffic, my turn signal neglected as I forced my way into the merging lane, ignoring all road decorum. It was hard to believe that just moments ago, I was soundly sleeping on my couch until I was awoken to the brutally reality that my class was in 20 minutes.

If I can make it to the parking garage by 7:50 a.m., I’ll be okay.

I know it’s not a big deal to walk into class a few minutes late, especially for an 8 a.m. class. However, the not-logical part of my brain was overtaken with visions of mockery for disrupting a class full of undergrad pre-law students. I could just imagine seeing their eyes roll as the old guy who talks too much in class casually strolls in to finally take his seat in class.

If you read my previous editorial on the university’s attendance policy, it’s pretty clear I take a liberal stance when it comes to attendance. For this particular morning class, I had already missed four of the three excusable allowed for the semester.

It also didn’t help that this particular professor, U.S. District Judge, did not find me as charming as I’d like to think I am. My random outspoken quips were often met with silence or a subtle eye roll. He is a wonderful educator — we just did not share a lot of the same beliefs, especially on attendance.

The pressure was on, and I knew I could not be late to another class as my GPA depended on it.

Then, as if by some sort of divine intervention, an opportunity presented itself. It was as if the clouds parted and a beam of light came shining down on a piece of unoccupied gravel that my car would fit into. Sure, it wasn’t a designated parking spot, but as I hastily parallel parked into the makeshift spot, I swore I could hear the toll of church bells as if my choice was ordained by the Catholic church.

It was perfect. I could zip across the football field and make my way to College Hall and be in my seat without the need of sprinting and spending the first 15 minutes of class trying to catch my breath.

Everything was going to be alright.

And everything was alright.

Until I got out of class.

Upon returning to my “parking spot”, I was revisited by the same jolt of panic I had experienced just over an hour ago. My car was gone.

My dependable Subaru, the one I loaded up with all my stuff and moved to Pittsburgh just 9 months before, had evaporated. It felt the same way one does after returning from a long shopping trip, only to find themselves lost in the parking lot, with the echoing thought of “did someone really steal my car.” I struggled with the thought of someone actually wanting to steal my blemish-covered high-mileage sedan.

Then, it dawned on me.

I got towed.

For months I had avoided purchasing a parking pass and ignoring the yellow parking tickets that were routinely placed on my windshield. Thinking that as I was not in the system, there was no way the university could trace this car back to me.

This was a painful reminder that the house always wins. Now the gig was up and I was going to have to face the music.

Of course, my initial internal dialogue was searching for a way to blame this on someone or something else.

I wanted to blame the university for its parking schematic, despite their very clear policy and the number of chances they had afforded me.

I wanted to blame the police officer, who did not ignore my clear intrusion and was likely fed up with seeing my vehicle constantly out of compliance for the past two semesters.

I even wanted to blame the towing company, who was just out there making a living, doing their job.

Yet, in the end like all mastermind criminals, I only had myself to blame.

As I walk the campus and see the yellow parking tickets neatly tucked into the windshields of my fellow students’ vehicles, I urge my fellow students to learn from my previous and expensive mistake.

It’s easy to not follow the rules. While I admire dissidents, it’s important to remember that the individual is never greater than the group. While this was a victimless infraction, there’s a villainous and superior mindset when choosing to not following simple rules, in order to maintain a level of convenience.

It’s both selfish and immature.

Getting my vehicle out of impound cost me $350 dollars. I had to pay for an Uber to the impound and would also have to pay for my vehicle to get rebalanced as the process of the tow had done a number to my vehicle.

In the end, and almost $500 later, I had learned a valuable lesson that I hope to pass on to my fellow students.

Never take an 8 a.m. class.