Like so many of you, I was driving around campus one morning from 9:20 to 10:35, trying to find a parking space with my special W pass.
Owning a W pass is like scoring backstage passes to a concert, then arriving at the concert and realizing that Burger King handed out a free backstage pass to anyone who purchased a large soda. I was driven to that expletive precipice, cursing the driver of the white 1992 Honda Civic (you know who you are) who just snaked my parking space. I had been following a woman from the Browning Center to her car to get this space. I don’t understand why the Honda felt he deserved this spot, since my license plate numbers were nearly imprinted on the back of this woman’s legs several times.
I sat in the middle of the parking aisle, wishing flaming, hot death upon the Civic’s driver, and bemoaning my oppressed existence. College students have no freedom, I grumbled. Our schedules are slave to the number of parking spots on campus. Our professors heap homework upon us, severely limiting occasions for guys like me to be rejected by women. Our employers forget what it was like to be in college. We’re already poor, but we still get ticketed by cops in Rawlins, Wyoming, for driving 84 in a 75. Honestly? On a rural Wyoming freeway, where the nearest car to me could have stopped, gotten out, danced the entire Macarena on the freeway, and then driven off before they even saw my headlights?
I was rolling in my gutter of self-pity, when I remembered my assignment to write in reflection of the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. I screwed up my face and deliberated. What did I have to feel emancipated about? I’m about as majority as it gets around here. The last time my ancestors really needed emancipating was when they were coming through Wyoming on handcarts and amputated feet (I have to say, Wyoming, you’re not so welcoming). More recently, my ancestors only needed emancipating when they forgot their Café Rio punchcard and had to pay for what they thought would be a free burrito.
I flipped on the radio, seeking guidance. It was tuned to a political pundit who is fierce and unrelenting, his opinions shooting forth like unmerciful hellfire. Cringing, I switched the station to public radio, which is about as fierce as taffy. There was a reporter talking about some horrible explosion in some country East or West of here. Meanwhile, two journalists were still missing after publishing their new tell-all about a corrupt Slavic government. And miraculously, the victory in another country’s election went unanimously to the bully already in power.
Just ahead of me, a tan Suburban left the two parking spots it had been occupying, and I gleefully tiptoed into one of them. Feeling more appreciative, I started the tardy scurry, my mind racing along with my feet. What freedoms do I enjoy, after all?
I have the freedom to get a college education, in whichever study I choose. I drive there in my car, which is one of my family’s four vehicles. I can write whatever I want (within reason) in this column without going missing, and if I can’t write it here, I can go online and join the Blowhard Blogger Society. I can drive through Wyoming and get ticketed without being dragged to prison or beaten to a pulp.
I stopped mid-campus and smiled. I also have the freedom to leave a passive-aggressive note on the windshield of a white Honda Civic.