Published Feb 10, 2005

I park in this brand-new parking lot this semester. And I’ve been having some serious trouble finding my car there. I’ve been blaming my easily-confused memory; after all, it’s not easy to remember, at 5:30pm, where you parked at 7:45am. Was it the third floor? The fourth? The sixth? Some days it was easy. Some days I searched for my car for minutes on end. But today I figured it out.

First, a little background. Last semester, for the low low price of half of what I’d spend parking anywhere else within walking distance of campus, at least legally, I had a permit for the Parking Center. Or, as we called it, The Ghetto. The Parking Center was cheap, sure, but it was far. A converted warehouse relatively near USC, to get there required me to take one of three routes:

  1. The long way, up one whole side of the campus, across two six-lane streets, past a construction site, beneath a freeway overpass, and across a freeway exit ramp.
  2. The short way, across a three-way intersection with no crosswalk, beside a six-lane street with no sidewalk, beneath the freeway overpass, past the homeless man getting a blowjob from a crack whore, across another three-way intersection with no crosswal, and past an abandoned warehouse.
  3. The only safe route after dark, a 20-minute bus ride around campus (5 minutes if you got the right bus, or 60 minutes if you got the wrong one and got to take a ride all around campus, up past fraternity row, past all the student housing, past the convenience stores, and back to where you started, leaving you just about 20 minutes to get the right bus and make it to the Parking Center in an even hour).

So when the new Parking Structure 1 opened, at the corner of Figueroa and Exposition, directly across from the business school, I happily paid double to park there. Now, the building’s not done yet, so you can’t park on the roof or against some walls, if they’re working nearby, and sometimes the stairs are closed and often the elevators are, and the one time I took the elevator it forgot what buttons you pushed every time the door closed, which I took as a solid vote for the stairs. But it’s a parking lot that I’m allowed to park in and it’s nearby.

And now I can find my car in it! I made a discovery today that explains why I’m never parked on the floor I think I’m parked on, and why it always seems like I get to the exit in no time. Now, this place looks like a staggered floors, two-way center ramp model, but there’s a twist: the floor on the west side is flat, so if you turn west off of the ramp and go around you just go around the level, but the floor on the east side is sloped uphill, so if you turn east off the ramp you actually go up another level. I know it sounds crazy but that’s the way it is. And that’s why I’m always parked on level 5 when I only went up two center ramps.