Parking monitors endure harassment

by Jessica Steeno

Nobody likes to get a parking ticket. But some drivers dislike it so much that they seek revenge.
Three years ago, a campus parking enforcement monitor had her University-issued car stolen while she was on duty.
“I turned around and it was gone,” said Roxann, who prefers not to give out her last name for security reasons. “It was really kind of scary. Everything was in there, my house keys, my checkbook, everything.”
Police eventually found the car and Roxann’s purse. Although the loss was temporary, Roxann learned a lesson. “I make sure to always lock my door now,” she said.
In her six years as a parking enforcement monitor, Roxann has had her car spit in several times, and has been called a host of names — one of the nicest being “Ho.”
But her experiences are not unique. Many parking monitors around the campus and the Twin Cities experience harassment as a part of their daily routines.
Parking Enforcement is a part of the University Police Department, and has four full-time employees. Three work the day shift and one works in the evening. Roxann said they leave the overnight parking enforcement to University police. She said on an average day she issues anywhere from 80 to 120 parking citations.
Beverly, another parking monitor who also prefers not to have her last name published, has been working with the department for 15 years.
“There’s a lot of crap you take,” she said.
Beverly said she has had her car blocked in by other cars so she can’t move. Just a few weeks ago, she found a note on a car parked illegally near the Superblock that said, “Go eat your doughnuts.”
Recipients of parking tickets have called her home and forced Beverly to get an unlisted phone number.
“They’d call me at home and get real nasty to the point where I’d just have to hang up,” she said. “Nowadays it’s getting worse out here, more violent.”
Beverly and other parking monitors have asked the University for training on how to deal with violent people. Police officers take courses in “verbal judo” to learn how to avoid violent situations by talking their way out of them.
Beverly said their requests to University officials for the same training have been ignored.
“We usually just walk or drive away in those situations,” she said.
Roxann said she knows of other parking monitors being harassed.
A University parking monitor had his keys stolen from his car while he was writing a ticket. The keys were never found.
Roxann doesn’t seem to let all the harassment get her down, though.
“It’s all right,” she said of her job. “I’d rather be president, but hey … a lot of people are really nice,” she said. “Some of them kid with me, even the ones I ticket a lot.”
After a while, Roxann said she gets to know certain cars and how many tickets they have. If cars have more than five tickets on their records, they are tagged and towed.
People give Roxann a variety of excuses for parking illegally. “A lot of people get mad because they say there’s not a lot of parking,” she said. “That’s not true. There’s just not a lot of convenient parking, and people are too lazy to walk.”
Roxann said she doesn’t understand why people don’t feed the meters. “It’s a lot cheaper to put a quarter in the meter than to pay a 10-dollar ticket,” she said.
Some people find creative ways to get around plugging the meters. Some put Popsicle sticks in the slots and jam the meters so they appear to be full.
Others stick quarters in meters next to strangers’ cars when they see a monitor coming.
“You don’t know if they’re doing it to be vindictive or if they actually have a big heart,” Roxann said.
As she drove by people parked illegally in front of Folwell Hall and motioned them to move their cars, many of the students made faces at Roxann.
“Little snots,” she said. “I’d like to kick em.”