Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Dan Middlemiss says he's had enough of the parking issues at Dalhousie University. (cbc.ca)
Dan Middlemiss says he's had enough of the parking issues at Dalhousie University. (cbc.ca)

Road Sage

A parking space, Professor Dan's final frontier Add to ...

Dear Professor Dan Middlemiss,

It’s been brought to our attention that on August 29, 2011, you resigned your faculty position at Dalhouise University’s political science department, where you have worked for the past three decades, due to frustration with parking availability. According to reports by the CBC and other media outlets, after waiting in line for over an hour to purchase a $260 parking pass, you grew agitated and then proceeded to the university’s administration building where you informed staff, “I’m not kidding this time, I don’t have to put up with this. I’m resigning.”

More related to this story

You were apparently angry about the parking situation at Dalhousie, where there are 2,000 parking spaces available for 20,000 students and 3,000 staff. This month, the university decided to sell fewer passes and this led to a rush. You said you were fed up with the current lack of parking and that in order to teach a 2:30 p.m. class you must have your car parked by 7 a.m. “It’s just silly. It’s been 30 years of frustration.”

Professor Middlemiss, we at the Parking Authority understand your frustration but we believe that most of your angst stems from a misunderstanding of the nature of parking.

When a consumer buys a parking pass most assume that they are doing just that – buying a pass that will allow them to park; however, there are subtle differences involved in the sale of parking that a professor of political science and a defence industry expert (such as yourself) might not be fully capable of understanding.

Let’s compare the purchase of a parking pass with the purchase of another item, for instance, an apple. Here’s what happens when you buy an apple from a merchant.

a) You hand the merchant a sum of money equal to the price of the apple.

b)The merchant hands you the apple.

Here’s what happens when you buy a parking pass.

a) You give the merchant (in your case a university) a sum of money equal to the price of a parking pass.

b) The university then gives you a shiny plastic sign that you can hang from your rearview mirror.

c) The university then sells as many parking passes as it can to anyone with money, thousands of passes if possible, there is no legal limit. If a parking lot has 200 spaces, it’s perfectly acceptable for the university to sell 20,500 passes.

d) Every morning the university opens the parking lot. It’s first-come, first-served.

How does this compare with apples? Well, let’s see how things would work if a merchant used the same logic selling an apple as most organizations use when selling parking.

a) He would take a sum of money equal to the price of an apple from 200 to 300 people.

b) He would then draw his arm back and throw the apple up into the air as high as he could.

c) He would then run away.

When his customers finally caught him the merchant would tell them that they could not complain because he isn’t selling them an actual apple, he is selling them the opportunity to have an apple if they are determined and crafty enough to come and get it. Because this merchant owns all the apples they would either do as he says or stop eating apples.

Therefore, Professor Middlemiss, don’t think of your parking pass as a pass that guarantees you a reasonable opportunity to park, think of it as a ticket that guarantees you the chance to park. In fact, we at the Parking Authority are currently testing out new terms for the parking pass.

The top contenders are:

  • “Parking 6/49”
  • “Parking? Passes?”
  • “Park Jack”

We’re also considering incorporating a scratch-’n-park system.

I would like to point out that others have it much worse than you do. Parking passes at Ryerson University are said to cost $1,017 each. Can the knowledge of another person’s suffering somehow alleviate an individual’s own suffering (does a person being water-boarded suffer less knowing that someone else is being burned with hot irons?) we’re not sure but we offer this up on the off chance you’re the kind of fellow this kind of sadistic thinking works on.

There a few other courses of action you could consider.

Move closer to where you work. Driving and parking are not a right. People who work at office jobs in the city are not guaranteed parking spaces. They take public transit, no matter how awful it is, or they pay through the nose. You could park further away from campus and walk. You could file an injunction against student's driving or owning cars. There is something morally wrong with the idea of students crying poor all the while driving cars and owning iPhones.

We at the Parking Authority hope you find these suggestions helpful. We look forward to serving you in the future.

Cheer up and remember our motto: “Semper Quaerens. Sine Fine Explorans.” (Always Searching. Endlessly Searching).

Best regards,

The Parking Authority

Follow Andrew Clark on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy

Follow on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories