Monday, 2 July 2012

The Politics of School Car Parking

As I approach my 40s, as a teacher, my thoughts naturally turn to joining SLT, ditching my partner for one ten years younger, and buying an Audi.

It would also be nice to have a reserved parking space for my shiny new Audi at work. Some people already do have one at my school, but I'm not talking about the head or deputies here, I'm talking about those people who reserve their own spaces. In a manner similar to the politics of staffroom seating and the borrowing of coffee mugs, parking in someone else's self-appointed space can cause ridiculous amounts of stress in school. It is all about territory.

The fundamental problem seems to be that most schools weren't designed at a time when every teacher had a car. On top of that, you have early starters and late finishers. From my experience, those who come in late usually stay longer after school, and early risers leave closer to the bell. Well, unless you have ample spaces for everyone, or a turntable in your car park, that simply doesn't work, does it? I'm not a morning person, I live 2 miles from school because I'm not a morning person and I scrape in just before half-past eight, because I'm not a morning person. As a result, I have two choices: park on the mud and risk having to be towed off, or block someone in and face their wrath later in the day.

Imagine if you will, the panic that sets in when it's dark and cold, and you are one of only a couple of cars left on site and you are stuck in the mud. Wheels are spinning and digging you in deeper and deeper. The situation seems hopeless. Images of being airlifted out wrapped in tin foil start to flood your mind when, out of the darkness comes your hero.

"Can I give you a push?"

You suck back the tears of panic/frustration and grab desperately at this hand pulling you away from the precipice. Together you pack the wheels with cardboard from the skip and finally sit back down behind the wheel to give it one last go... and you are free! The only problem being the horrible guilt when you look in the rear view mirror and see your Samaritan covered from head to toe in the fountain of mud sent up from the spinning wheels.

Not something either party needs on top of a full day of teaching.

In fact, just having somewhere to park your car doesn't seem to be asking too much to me. For a start, we only have one space marked in our car park and that is a disabled space (which someone regularly takes as their reserved space on the days the disabled member of staff isn't in). For some reason, people don't take it as a guide for where other cars should park and you get the frustration of people leaving a three-quarter size gap not even the most determined male PE teacher can prove his spatial awareness (and therefore manhood) by squeezing into.

Because yes, there is a difference between men and women when it comes to parking. And it is largely women who use the most annoying 'trump card' of all for parking badly: child care. Apparently, if you have children, you gain the right to park in the same place (note place, not space) every day, block the way out, and block people in by double parking. No thought for other people who might have to leave early, or have meetings elsewhere during the day. Perhaps I should review my comments about turning 40, forget about joining SLT, stick with my trusty Corsa and just get pregnant instead. 'Reserved' parking space here I come.

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