PHOTOGRAPHY | MICHAEL MASSAS
After following a UCF parking patroller around for part of her shift, I’d say some UCF commuters are lucky Parking Services can’t give out citations for ignorance.
Minutes into a ride-along with Callie Wright, senior patroller, it became obvious that the bad reputation the ticket-writers have is undeserved.
Wright, who normally patrols on foot, was allowed a car to bring along senior patroller Miguel Guzman, Centric photographer Michael Massas and myself.
After departing from the Garage D office, Wright drove slowly through lot H4, making sure that all vehicles were parked correctly, with a current decal and a valid license plate.
Nearby, a red Mustang with a green decal pulled into a faculty and staff parking spot, where red or blue decals are required. Rather than wait for the students to leave and write a ticket, Wright drove up and asked them to move to a section of the lot designated for green permits. The passenger said he was unaware they had parked in a faculty spot, despite being just yards away from a sign that said so, and agreed to move.
“We give people opportunities,” Guzman said. “We try to keep everything regulated in a positive way.”
Fifteen minutes later, we returned to lot H4 to find the red Mustang in the same faculty spot.
I couldn’t believe the obvious disrespect from the students who left the Mustang. I was irritated, and I wasn’t the one who politely asked them to move.
In contrast, Wright showed no anger. She calmly wrote down the license plate number and vehicle description, took pictures of the vehicle, scanned the decal and left a wrong-lot ticket — a $25 fine.
Students aimed disapproving looks our way as Wright wrote the citation. That’s because some people, like TV Production major Ryan Francis, have a negative outlook on patrollers and their work.
“I’d like to think it’s for our safety, but it’s always nice to have a little revenue too,” he said.
Rather than giving out tickets to build UCF revenue, the parking patrollers said they do so for a different reason.
“They seem to think that we want to be mean,” Wright said. “But the main reason we give tickets is because there are people who pay for decals, and it’s unfair that someone tries to park on campus for free.”
In lot C1, a truck with a green decal parked in the faculty and staff area. The driver got out and shouldered his backpack before he noticed Wright. He immediately got back in his truck to move it. It gave us a chuckle.
Wright said these are common occurrences, and are nowhere near as outrageous as some attempts to fool patrollers.
Some of the more clever efforts include changing the date on day passes or decals, moving cones to take a parking spot and sticking an old ticket on a vehicle’s windshield.
However, the oddest attempt to obtain a parking spot came on the watch of Manuel Guerrero, the facility and events specialist.
While Guerrero was patrolling he noticed a unique sight: three full-size cars taking up two parking spots. The middle car was at fault because it was straddling the line. The tiny amount of space between the vehicles perplexed Guerrero.
“We don’t even know how he got out,” he said. Guerrero said he’s seen vehicles rack up massive amounts of tickets. “I’ve seen as many as 31 or 32 citations, and most of them were for the same reason," he said.
Callie Wright gives citations to protect students and faculty who pay for decals.
While Wright didn’t give nearly that many citations during our three-hour ride along, she did give out more than I anticipated:
- Two for parking in the wrong lot — $25 each.
- Two for not having a decal — $30 each.
- One for an expired license plate — $40.
- One for parking in a service area — $35.
- One for wrong direction parking in a one-way garage — $20.
Giving tickets, which range from $20-$250, is not the only thing patrollers do. Parking services offers a plethora of services for UCF drivers at no cost: escorts, unlocking cars, tire changes, battery jumps and more, Guerrero said.
In fairness, parking patrollers buy full-price decals just like every- one else.
Even though patrollers encounter angry people yelling at them — to the point where one was punched years ago — they still empathize with those they give tickets to. I was surprised at how understanding Wright and others, like patroller Ashton Greene, are.
“They have the right to get mad. It’s their money,” Greene said.