Jax in Jozi – the second installment of my Vuvuzela Online column

9 Oct

Driving you over the edge

Wits couldn’t have chosen a better slogan: Wits University gives you the edge. Quite a few lame jokes have originated right there – Wits pushes you over the edge, Wits, the edge of normal existence, Wits gives you the cutting (razor blade) edge, etc. Whether Wits gives you the edge or drives you to the brink is debatable, but there’s one activity at Wits that definitely does give you an advantage in life.

It’s the one university experience guaranteed to benefit you for years to come. You’ll be sitting there in ten years time thinking: “Yes – this is why I went to university!”, and you’ll breathe a sigh of gratitude.Image

After three to five years at Wits you, unlike ordinary mortals, will be able to park in the tightest spots, parallel park on the steepest hill, incline pull-off with a semi-working handbrake and make a legal parking place out of a spot reserved for heavy duty vehicles (this last move reserved for those intrepid enough to carry around their own paint).

Not only will you be able to pull off these tricks while looking debonair and professional, but you’ll also be able to do them while smoking a cigarette, adjusting your radio dial and calling your friends to save you a spot in a lecture hall.

Do not scoff at what you might consider minor feats of accomplishment. Being able to park – anywhere, and at anytime, without getting a parking ticket at Wits (or UCT, so I’ve heard) – is a truly remarkable accomplishment. Once you’ve mastered the art, you’ll be blessed with a saintly glow bestowed by the parking gods.

And believe me, this comes in handy. I realised this when my boyfriend, who mastered Parking at Wits 101 magna cum laude in his six years at Wits, managed to get parking on 7th Street, Melville on three consecutive occasions. Each one on a weekend, and at around 8pm nogal. Anyone who frequents Old Melville will be reading this with shock and wonder. ‘Tis true, Wits gave my boyfriend the parking edge.

Sadly, there are those Witsies who have failed Parking 101 many a time, or have chosen not to take the course at all. I am one of those sad, sad people. Many’s the time I park at postgraduate parking and hang my head in shame at my inability to park with superb skill in unimaginable spots. No parking spots on 7th Street for me, I fear. No entrance parking at Eastgate outside the movies at month end.

My shame and disappointment aside, there are generally two kinds of people who fail to grasp the importance of parking 101. The first are of the industrious type, who rise with upbeat optimism at 5.30am, and get to Wits in time to grab a great spot on Yale Road. You will see these people’s cars in the same spot every day. They often sleep in their cars until lectures start, or sit in the driver’s seat, drinking Bioplus and speaking to themselves. They also have a tendency to look at you with glazed eyes and fall asleep while talking to you, standing up.

The second group are those slackers who can’t be bothered to get here early, so they sleep in, come in just before class starts, drive straight down to Hall 29 (right at the bottom of campus) and walk for 20 minutes to their lecture. They’ve been known to arrive half an hour before their noon lecture, and sit in parking lots waiting for students to walk by. These hapless souls are then kidnapped with the dread words: “Take me to your parking spot”, and forced to give up their treasured space. It’s a new form of post modern (parking) colonialism.

Lines of slackers form on West Campus upper parking at around 10am, where they wait up to an hour for students to leave campus. Once a girl blocked the entrance to the unofficially designated waiting area with truly god-awful parking (Hadn’t attended enough Parking 101

pracs). It was a momentous occasion. So acidic were the notes left on her window, they practically corroded her bonnet.

And then there are those truly special ones – the students who arrive early, late, any time for that matter, and manage to find (usually illegal) parking, and get away with it. Security guards seek out these truants, but they usually have an excuse. Or they just park so damn well that you have to respect them.

It is these students who graduate from Wits with the finest education. They will get the best parkings at music festivals, deliver you with front-door style to the busiest events, and park in places that would lead me to a bumper bash or intense humiliation, even though I drive one of the smallest cars on the market.

So, I might not graduate with the parking edge, but at least I’m smart enough to be going out with someone who did. And that’s why I will never be driving us to 7th Street  – the parking gods don’t like me too much after that minor accident near Flower Hall…


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