The men with the golden envelopes

Carolyn Fertig

Stater reporter sees what it’s like to work for Parking Services

VIEW photos from Fertig’s day with Parking Services.

When Kent State students see someone walking around their parking lot in a bright yellow coat, they take caution. And when they see the bright yellow envelope on their windshield, they know they’ve been caught in the act.

For many drivers across campus, Parking Services is merely the policing force of parking violations at Kent State. Yet Parking Services employees do more than just place tickets on illegally parked cars.

We sent reporter Carolyn Fertig out to follow a full-time enforcement officer and a part-time student officer as they ventured out to work. The officers spent a cold day in early March ticketing, jumping car batteries and retrieving locked-in keys – just another normal day for these Parking Service employees.

Name: Ron Phelps

Occupation: Full-time Parking Services enforcement officer

Years of Service: 10

Temperature: 25 F

12:36 p.m. – Phelps gets into the Parking Services truck, places his sunglasses on his face, adjusts his hood on his head and turns the key to start the white truck. He pulls out of the Parking Services lot and begins the commute to the parking lots behind the library for his route that day.

12:40 p.m. – Phelps stops the truck. He forgets about his coffee cup on the bed of truck. He gets out to retrieve it. Glad to have the warm beverage again, he continues on his way.

12:50 p.m. – He arrives at the library parking lots. He gets out of the truck, puts on his ticketing belt, which contains bright, yellow envelopes and a ticketing machine, and begins walking up and down rows. He checks each car carefully to see if all the cars have the proper parking permits displayed.

12:55 p.m. – A voice on the radio sounds. Dispatch calls for a boot that needs to be administered in the Art Building parking lot. Phelps gets back into the truck and starts to drive to the next location.

12:59 p.m. – Dispatch sounds again. The boot still needs to be administered in the art parking lot, and a car needs to be jumped in the same parking lot.

1:02 p.m. – Phelps arrives at the art parking lot and gets flagged down by another enforcement officer, Adam Davis, who shows him where the car is that needs to be booted.

Within five seconds, Phelps boots the car. He places the tickets on the windshield and a sticker on the driver’s side window, warning the owner not to move the car. Phelps pulls out a camera, takes pictures of the car for Parking Services’ records, and then gets back into the warm, still-running truck.

1:08 p.m. – He begins driving around the parking lot looking for the person whose car needs to be jumped. He calls dispatch. “Still need a jump?”

Dispatch confirms, and he finds the white Mazda.

1:10 p.m. – Phelps gets out of the truck and approaches the student who needs help. He gets right to work. He fills out the proper paperwork and then asks the student to pop the hood.

Phelps takes the jumper cables and places them quickly on the proper location without even flinching. The student turns the car keys, and the car starts.

“One person is happy,” he said. “I helped that person in need, and that’s what makes the job. I made one person happy, but the other will not be a happy camper – all in the same lot.”

1:17 p.m. – Phelps gets back into the truck and starts heading back to Parking Services to complete the log for the duties performed. After that, he returns to his route again.

Name: Andrew Oliver

Occupation: Parking Services part-time student enforcement officer

Years of Service: Two

Major: Business Management

Year: Junior

Temperature: 23 F

1:38 p.m.- Oliver comes out of the warm Business Administration building to start his route. He makes sure his gloves are on and adjusts the hood of his bright yellow jacket.

“It’s a day-by-day job,” Oliver said. “You just learn to take it with strong shoulders. I’m out here doing my job, and ticketing is only part of that job.”

1:40 p.m. – Oliver walks up and down each row at the Bowman Hall parking lot. Checking windows carefully, he makes sure all permits are displayed. He passes by a blue Honda and a red Taurus, notices nothing wrong and continues on his route.

1:44 p.m. – He moves to the R7 lot near the Honors College and finds a car without a permit displayed. He types the license plate number into his machine, places the printed ticket in the bright yellow envelope and puts it on the windshield. He begins to walk away, takes out some chalk from his pocket, chalks the tire and continues on his route.

1:46 p.m. – Oliver finds another car – just one car away from the last. This time, the parking meter is out of money. He pulls out the machine, administers the ticket and chalks the tire.

1:49 p.m. – He moves back to the Bowman lot but walks slower than before. Class just let out, and more students are in the lot. Oliver, in his neon Parking Services jacket, knows he doesn’t go unnoticed in the parking lot full of students.

1:51 p.m. – He approaches a car, sees a handicapped permit but no Kent State permit and stares at the car and the permit, but he moves on, leaving the car unticketed.

“It’s a moral thing,” he said. “This time I will let it go. Next time I may not, but this person has that tag for a reason, and I just don’t see how I can justify ticketing them.”

1:55 p.m. – Oliver moves up and down the aisle, almost like a robot. He moves quickly but thoroughly through the lot, his face red because of the cold.

1:58 p.m. – He stops, shakes his head slightly and pulls out his machine: a car with a C-Ice arena permit in a restricted zone. Oliver places the ticket on the car and puts his gloves back on.

2 p.m. – Oliver walks toward the business building again.

2:03 p.m. – He opens the doors to the Business Administration Building, climbs the stairs to the third floor and sits by a window. It’s time to warm up. He pulls out a book and reads a chapter before heading back out into the cold.

Contact transportation reporter Carolyn Fertig at [email protected].