The most feared, hated workers on campus
Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 16:12
Those who have held a job in the service industry know that being treated like dirt by the occasional customer comes with the territory.
But one job gets an even tougher rap. Workers are commonly referred to as Nazis, have trash thrown at them as they drive by and it's not entirely shocking to learn that a co-worker was punched in the face by a disgruntled citizen.
No, it's not a roadside cleanup crew staffed entirely by prison inmates — it's the UCF Parking and Transportation Services.
But just like any other less-than-glamorous job, parking enforcement officers are just normal people trying to make a living. Some students, irate with the workers' audacity to cite their vehicle for a violation and administer a $25 ticket, seem to forget this.
"They're really just trying to get a job and make a living right now, the economy is so bad," said Parking and Transportation Services Office Manager, Jenifer Walker. "We're not out to ruin anyone's day."
Parking enforcement employees have been trained to deal with angry students and professors by understanding that though violators are screaming at them, they are just caught up in the moment.
"You learn that they are just mad at the situation, they aren't mad at you," said Tim, a parking enforcement employee. "So you just take it, go home, punch a pillow, and that's it."
For their safety, parking enforcement employees have been instructed to only give out either a badge number or their first name when asked.
Badge No. B65, declined giving his name, stating that the reason for his refusal was that he tries to keep his occupation a secret from his classmates. While his close friends know that he moonlights as one of the most hated employees on campus, he fears that he would be ridiculed by classmates if they knew that he may be behind the neon green envelope attached to their windshield.
If it weren't for the required polo shirts with "Parking and Transportation Services" emblazoned on the front like a scarlet letter, one wouldn't look twice at this seemingly nice group of employees.
Actually, few heads may turn, as some of the employees have taken to speaking German to each other, poking fun at their reputation as UCF's own resident Nazis.
Zaina Soueid, senior psychology major, is one of the numerous students who isn't too fond of the staff, especially after she received three parking tickets in one day.
"It was kind of my fault, but it was pretty much bad luck," Soueid said.
Some students, however, have had nothing but good experiences with Parking Services. Christine Gordon, a senior political science major, has always found Parking Services nothing but helpful when purchasing her parking permit.
"If everyone would follow the right parking procedures, they wouldn't get any tickets to complain about," Gordon said. "I can definitely understand people being upset over the prices of parking permits, but the money ultimately helps UCF students by building more parking garages and parking lots."
Many students may only think of their money going down the drain when they think of Parking and Transportation Services, but in moments of desperation, parking enforcement employees may seem like Knights in shining armor.
"If you have a flat tire, we'll change it for you," Walker said. "If you run out of gas, we'll take you to the gas station. Your battery is dead, we'll jump your battery. You lock your keys in your car, as long as you don't have power locks we will open your door for you."
The enforcement officers look forward to being able to help someone out of a jam, instead of citing his or her vehicle for a violation.
"Some people are nice. I'm about to go do a battery jump so I'm going to meet somebody and they are going to be grateful I helped them out," said parking enforcement employee badge No. B53, who declined to give his name. "Compare that to the guy who wants to get angry with me because he parked in the wrong spot and got a ticket."
Walker made it perfectly clear, her employees are not out to get anyone, they don't target people, they don't get their friends out of tickets and there is no citation quota that they must fill.
Parking enforcement employees are doing a job just like any other person in the service industry. They have a list of duties, get paid a decent wage, and can support their families because of what they do. The only difference is that any given day there is a higher chance that a parking enforcement employee will have one of their customers spit in their face than the average shop girl.
"We all have the right to come to work and not be harassed or belittled," Walker said.
B65 said that everyone wants to get angry at them for giving out tickets, but nobody cares that he spent two hours under a car last week trying to rescue a kitten that had gotten stuck in the engine.
No, that's not an exaggeration. B65, who because of his job, has been treated as if he were the spawn of Satan, spent an entire two hours of his life under a car on-campus, trying to rescue a kitten.
Just another day on the job for parking enforcement.