There have been a seemingly infinite number of columns about parking at the University of Maine and how badly sucks, but this is not one of them: We all know parking on campus is a complete nightmare. To me, parking is relative child’s play after dealing with the traffic getting to and from campus. That’s right, I’m talking about running the gauntlet.
The gauntlet is driving one of the two roads that bring you to campus. In the gauntlet, one finds one lane of seemingly endless traffic, multitudes of police, crossing guards and school buses galore.
Let’s start with the basic layout of the routes leading to and from the UM campus. There’s Orono and Old Town and sometimes Veazie, all of which have one lane to accommodate traffic, which includes, but is not limited to, UM commuters and businesspeople headed to work. That’s right – everyone gets to share this coveted lane, which leads to massive congestion.
It’s at this point, when you are barely moving in a parade of traffic from hell, that you see the old Five-O: Jake, also know as Johnny Law. Headed down Orono’s Main St. in one lane of standstill traffic, the fear is not being pulled over for speeding. Once you enter the hellish speed trap that is College Ave., however, you are fair game for the authorities. Doing 25 miles per hour when you are late for class is an exercise in futility, but then again losing $160 for a speeding ticket isn’t exactly the most desirable alternative.
As if morning traffic and extreme police presence weren’t enough hassle for commuters, there’s that one crossing guard that stops the flow of traffic for every straggling child prancing across Main St. to school. I know he’s just doing his job, but it’s his smug sense of superiority as he halts the traffic as he sees fit.
What’s the deal with kids just wandering about Main St., crossing whenever they feel like? In the interest of improving the flow of traffic, I think the rugrats should have to wait until they have at least three to cross. This would teach them the value of patience, which I have clearly not learned.
Another point of contention regarding the kiddies is the fact that bus stops seems to have become obsolete. If you are one of the unfortunates who have been stuck behind a bus, you know that the bus drops each child off at his or her home. When I was a youngun’, oh so long ago, I remember walking a quarter mile, uphill both ways, to my bus stop. There was none of this state-funded chauffeurring in my day. And we wonder why America’s youth are grossly obese compared to other nations. If these husky lads and lasses had to walk farther than their driveways, maybe they would shed some pounds.
Yes, the life of a commuter student is not for the faint of heart. It goes beyond the lack of parking options on campus, to actually getting there and not being 10 minutes late for class. Running the gauntlet to class transcends being a mere pain in the ass and becomes a full- fledged war against traffic, school buses, cops and condescending crossing guards.
Mike Melochick is a senior journalism major who bravely runs the gauntlet daily to campus, when he actually decides to attend class.