The Parking Lot Seniority List by
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Prompted By Parking

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The Parking Lot Seniority List

For many years until I retired I worked as the librarian at Jane Addams,   a small,  inner-city vocational high school in the infamous south Bronx.   True,  the neighborhood was sketchy,   and the local bank where many of us cashed our monthly paychecks was robbed a couple of times,  but our school was an oasis in the asphalt jungle.   We had a wonderful and dedicated faculty,  and in general our students were good kids who wanted nothing more than to succeed.  (See Magazines for the Principal,  The Diary of a Young Girl,  Mr October,  Going Back to Work)

Street parking near the school was hard to find,  so at some point,  well before my time,  the schoolyard was designated as the faculty parking lot.   Lines were painted,  spaces were numbered,  and because there were always more drivers than allotted spaces,  a seniority list was created.

Faculty and staff were listed chronologically by the date they began working at the school,  with a formula to adjust for leaves of absence.   And administrators and deans who had to be at school early,  and basketball coaches and counselors who had to stay late,  were given preference.   And assigning spaces to folks in carpools required another special formula.

The teachers union rep even got involved to vet the constitutionality of the whole thing,  and so you can see it was a very important school-wide issue.

Our faculty was close-knit,  many life-long friendships were forged there,  and we usually shared each other’s joys and sorrows.   And so when one of us retired,  there was sure to be a grand celebration.

And when an upcoming retirement was announced the word spread quickly so that even before congratulations were given,  or party-planning begun,   the newer faculty members would high-tail it to the principal’s office.

Then the school secretary would take out that very important Parking Lot Seniority List so they could see who was the lucky one next in line for that about-to-be available,  highly coveted parking space!

– Dana Susan Lehrman 

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Schools


  1. John Shutkin says:

    Like Suzy, Dana, you have wonderfully hit upon the “parking list” theme, and what a hugely disproportionate importance it could play in the lives of parkers. (You might also appreciate my comments to Suzy’s story about the parking list at Barnard’s garage.)

    I’ve read that when there is finally a world of fully self-driving cars — probably after our time — the cars will drive themselves to off-site parking facilities until the owners next summon them. Could that also mean the end to parking lists? If so, what will replace them for drivers/parkers to obsess over?

  2. Khati Hendry says:

    Sometimes it’s the little things that are really important—like a parking spot! Who hasn’t seen a prime spot labelled “employee of the month”? That is way more worth striving for than some plaque! I can attest that hospitals are also places where parking priority is fiercely fought over. Sometimes physicians get precedence if they are on call, especially for obstetrics, or doing rounds on patients—which makes sense, but it is not a given.

  3. Marian says:

    Wow, Dana, both you and Suzy have opened a world that hadn’t been familiar to me. A lot of angst went into those parking lists. The places I worked had either large parking lots or, like San Francisco, no parking at all, so I never experienced those lists. Yes, as John said, with self-driving cars we will find another obsession, I’m sure.

  4. Suzy says:

    Dana, you and I both captured the parking lot list trauma in our stories. It was a crucial part of work for me and everyone I knew. Love how you juxtapose the retirement party with the scrutiny of the list.

  5. Betsy Pfau says:

    As others said, both you and Suzy reflect on something that Marian and I were innocent of before today. But this was critical in your worlds. I too, love the fact that the retirement party hadn’t even been planned before employees were checking their placement on that list!

  6. I’ve noticed that the topic of allotted parking spaces has commanded a lot [puns accidental] of attention in this prompt. I get it. Nothing so nerve-wracking as starting the work day frazzled by parking hassles!

  7. Laurie Levy says:

    I hope you eventually got a spot, Dana. I know this can be a big issue for land-locked schools. At the school my kids attended, they paved over a play field for the kids (both in the school and the neighborhood) to provide more teacher parking. But since there was already small teachers’ lot and safe street parking within a block or two, there was a huge protest. Eventually, the school board dug up the lot and restored the field. My tax money at work!

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