Thursday, October 18, 2007


As I walked to the car to meet Julie, I saw her talking with a woman. Julie came over and explained the woman couldn’t find Prochnow Auditorium and had been driving around campus for two hours trying to locate it. She had a ticket to a concert that was scheduled to start in 20 minutes.

Due to construction, road barricades, limited parking and the woman’s difficulty understanding and retaining directions Julie volunteered to escort her to the correct building. By road it was approximately a mile around the barricades. By foot, it was a three minutes walk -- at most five minutes. Because it was after dark, I decided to pull the car into an adjacent parking lot and walk with Julie. As I parked the car, I wondered why someone would arrange to arrive two hours early.

When I was introduced to the woman an un-kind label popped into my head – “space cadet”. She appeared to be in her fifties, had bleached blond hair and was dressed in an outfit that reminded me of Cher during the time she and Sonny had a TV program. Definitely the wrong outfit for an aging woman who is no longer slim. It was the wrong outfit for any woman on a cool October evening.

She parked her car, fumbled with keys and purse and suddenly asked “What is that red light?” I replied that it was just the door ajar indicator and that it would turn off when she closed the door. After she locked her car, she asked “Why is that light on?” Julie questioned whether the dome light turned off after a few seconds. The woman unlocked the car and flipped the switch on the light and then asked “Why is that red light on?” Rather than explaining again the purpose of a door ajar indicator I said “Don’t worry. It will go off when you close the door.”

We walked slowly to the auditorium. It was late, I was hungry and wanted to get home but she had one speed – very slow. As we arrived at the correct building I began to get suspicious. The building was dark. We found the door locked. Julie had an immediate solution. “May I see your ticket” she asked. The woman had trouble locating it and thought perhaps she had left it at home. After some searching, she found it. The date was the 10th. Julie told the woman, “The concert is next week on the 17th.”

We walked back to the cars – very slowly once again. Given our experience and some of the things she said, I began to think “dementia”.

When we got back to the car Julie asked if she needed directions to find her way but she assured us she knew the way. She started south toward her home, took a wrong turn and drove out of sight.

I looked at our windshield and saw a piece of a paper. Julie’s Good Samaritan effort resulted in a $30 parking ticket. I knew we didn’t have a parking permit for that lot but assumed it wasn’t patrolled after dark. Oh, well. That’s life.


Julie appealed the ticket. She wrote a polite, non-aggressive request explaining what had happened. She included a note about the concert and explained that the woman’s white car may have been ticketed at the same time.

I don’t know how many hundreds of thousands of dollars the University collects each year in parking fines but it’s profitable. I don’t know how many appeals are submitted each year but I’m confident very, very few are approved. To my surprise, the charge was removed from her account. I didn’t expect that!


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I'm glad that your attempt to be helpful was appreciated by the campus police.

10/18/2007 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

Perhaps you were entertaining an angel.

10/18/2007 09:26:00 PM  
Blogger Mysti said...

You probably called it correctly - dementia. You and Julie did a wonderful thing though.. and luckily was understood by campus officials.

10/19/2007 04:31:00 AM  

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