Don’t those people who take their jobs way too seriously bother you? I’m talking about those disillusioned souls who find themselves in a position of minimal authority, whose job is to ruin your day if you marginally violate code of conduct. Case in point, the guy who gives you parking tickets. If I park in the wrong spot for five minutes while rushing inside Rite Aid to pick up a friend’s strep throat medication and we cross paths right before you throw a ticket on my windshield, please just give me a break. I was doing a buddy a favor, there were no other spots available and there were five people in front of me. Come on, guy.
I’m intrigued by the type of person who would give me a parking ticket in the aforementioned situation. These people insist on sticking so closely to the rules that they are willing to forgo small moments of genuine decency in order to abuse their itty-bitty forms of power. Call me crazy, but I’d rather make someone happy than upset them. Last semester, after my car was towed, I got into a conversation with the owner of a local towing company. He was complaining about his job because he never meets anyone under friendly pretenses. Because I was polite in the way I inquired about Partners Place towing policies, he gave me a very generous discount for my minor violation. This Durham man running a for-profit business was compassionate enough to hook it up for a fortunate Duke student who had parked illegally in a rush. That’s what I’m talking about.
I would assume that our University would have more people similar to the homie towing man and not the angry parking ticket guy. However, this Tuesday I was appalled by the level of self-righteousness exhibited by the line monitors in not letting a technicality slide. Here’s what happened: A friend of mine had to leave the line to study for a midterm, and his line partner went to run to The Loop to pick up his food. He had been waiting for 12 hours already, and this was the one moment he had to grab something to put in his body. As the line monitors approached our group, we called our friend who then sprinted from The Loop back to our spot in the walk-up line before he had even received his food. He was 30 seconds late, and the group behind us had not yet been checked. Still, the line monitors refused to give us a break. We pleaded with them, explained in detail the nature of the situation and tried to appeal to their human compassion to absolutely no avail.
The justification that the line monitors gave me was that their decision was made out of principle and to protect the integrity of the process. But when you consider the situation, that justification is paradoxical. The integrity of the process is manifested in the sacrifice that all students in the walk-up line make in the days before the game. If a student misses a line check by seconds for a bathroom break or to pick up a Loop dinner, does that negate the commitment he or she has made to Duke basketball and the Duke community at-large?
Rules are only as strict as those who enforce them. The fan who is resolute enough to waive his right to a 30-second bathroom break in order to maintain a spot in the walk-up line is not a more committed Duke basketball fan than you or me. He’s just a little more uncomfortable. The bottom line: We are all Duke students, and we’re all rooting for the same team. GTHC.
Steve Kane is a Trinity senior.