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Slug Tales: Parking Habit Leads to Fine

I got my first parking ticket yesterday.

Yes, I’m aware that parking is allowed in designated spaces only, and that I was partially parked on the crosswalk. I know it’s against the rules. But I was desperate. And everyone else was doing it!

Coming from Montclair, the closest commuter lot is on the corner of Va. 234 and U.S. 1 in Dumfries. Less than five minutes from my house, it’s so conveniently located, and there’s a Slug line that I can take directly to the front door of my building. Coming home, there are two bus stops adjacent to my building, so I can just hop on in the afternoon and relax until I get back to my car – no long walks or getting on Metro. Hallelujah!

With all of those benefits, there’s only one big, fat problem: parking.

To be at work at 9 a.m., I don’t need to Slug until 8 a.m., at the earliest. And don’t tell me to “just get there earlier.” Rumor has it that lot is full by six o’clock! How much earlier could I possibly get there? I don’t have the option to change my hours, as much as I would love to get home earlier than 7 p.m. every evening.

The commuter lot at Va. 234 also happens to be one of the only in the area, and with its easy access from U.S. 1 and Interstate 95, many commuters come from areas in Dumfries, Triangle, Stafford, and even Fredericksburg. With such fierce competition, I don’t stand a chance at 8 a.m.

For the longest time, I had completely ruled out the chance of ever parking at that particular lot. I tried a few times without luck, before giving up and sadly passing by a line of cars waiting to take Slugs exactly where I needed to go, only to sit in traffic on my way to another lot.

And so, I became resigned to the fact that I’d have to move further north to Lake Ridge if I ever wanted to be within a reasonable distance of a commuter lot.

That is, until one Friday, when I gave the Route 234 lot another try, and stumbled upon open parking spaces.

Score! I thought. I’ll start parking here on Fridays from now on!

Then, I became spoiled by “Route 234 Lot Parking Fridays.” I started going to the lot on Mondays, too… then Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays! Sure, I was parking illegally, in spots painted with hash marks. But there were cars parked literally anywhere there was room – on the sidewalk, in the grass, on the curb. It just goes to show that commuters around these parts are THAT desperate for parking.

Every day, I worried that I’d come home to a parking ticket, but for weeks, I reveled in not being ticketed. I even found a regular illegal parking spot, and was occasionally annoyed when some jerk parked in it before I got there. I was saving so much in gas, getting on the road earlier, getting home so much easier – life was good.

Until now. Yesterday morning, I parked a bit further from my usual spot, dangerously over the line of the crosswalk. When I returned yesterday afternoon, my heart sank to find a little white envelope stashed under my windshield wiper. My luck had finally run out.

Of course, I plan to pay the $35 ticket. I broke the rules, and I acknowledge that. But I won’t go out without a fight – at my earliest opportunity, I will visit the police station to contest the ticket, as the reverse side of the ticket allows. It may not do any good for my wallet, but I feel compelled to voice my concerns about the lack of parking in our area to whomever it may concern. Commuters aren’t being flagrant of the law by parking illegally – we are just desperate for parking. I simply cannot pay this ticket without explaining myself… and perhaps pleading for a little mercy. I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, you can find me in traffic on I-95, going back and forth to the Route 123 commuter lot.

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