September 19th, 2012

Harriet Vane

Parking at GMU (cont'd): a black comedy

Dear friends and readers,

A first for me. I was sent a copy of Sarita Mandanna's Tiger Hills, and the admiral thinks it was sent by a publisher for me to read and write about it on my blog. This is about retrieving the book. "Move on" said a campus police officer to the admiral in his car -- for all the world as if he were Joe in Bleak House.

I had to go into GMU to get it and today had another interloan library book (a fine biography, a rarity in France, of Jane Austen, by a fine translator, Pierre Goubert and I find an inscription by him in the book -- he gave it to a highly placed friend who then unloaded it on a library -- well, about which more later), and I've discovered things worsening in the parking situation (see Parking at Universities today modelling US society: a money-caste system). There are more signs forbidding visitor parking except in designated areas and on top of certain decks.

I did say two days ago that Yvette confirmed the outrageous cost and impossibility of parking. A friend in her office whose daughter goes to GMU just signed a check for $625. Her daughter is not guaranteed a space and today when Caroline and I were on the campus two of the garages were labelled "full." (And we passed two small nearly empty ones for Big People.) I've had an escape of this kind of absurdity: Shit. Don't do it on the pot or on the floor. But by all means shit.

So, What's happening is people are having their friends bring them, and sometimes wait if the thing the person needs to do is say under a half an hour. The friend then parks anywhere and sits in the car.  There are three spots where you supposedly could feed a meter. But it's so complicated the meter it's difficult to understand.  You need to use a credit card it seems.

But who would pay $600 and still not have a guaranteed space. Did I say yesterday or the day before I was there and the garages were full by noon. So now the GMU police are out there too, saying to people "move on."  They want their blood money or get off the campus. The admiral was told by one younger woman, a student working as a person giving out tickets, that there is one spot near a student union you can sit for 20 minutes and wait w/o paying anything.

I did hurry back as if I were some kind of un-allowed person. On the way back I saw a young man looking very ill, bewildered, and beaten up. Others saw him. I stopped a minute and told an older man where the infirmary was. I couldn't help him. Had to rush back.

The book looks good. It's long-listed for the Booker and just the type of book I often like -- Anglo-Indian. But not US society.