Parking Pandemonium Adds to Senior Stress

A joke for some, a safety concern for others, student on-campus parking needs reconsidering


Sam Butz

A view of the much-maligned J-Lot

Ben Graff, Contributor

When the first Model T first drove on American roads, there was no way anyone, whether or not their last name was Ford, could have predicted what would one day be the most First World Problem in American history: parking.

Friends School of Baltimore, in an act of true kindness, gives students not one, but two entire parking lots to use! The smaller of the two is J-lot, which is shaped like a certain letter of the alphabet. It holds maybe 15 cars. The larger of the two is Senior lot, which holds a more respectable number of cars.

Enough spots are available to accommodate the seniors and some juniors. So that’s fine, right?

Yes. Until you factor in The Walk. The Walk all seniors know. The walk from the parking lots – roughly half a mile – to the main office. 

It begins with a rather moist walk through a soccer field, which you can avoid if you arrive early enough to park in J-lot. Then you must trudge uphill, via a paved path that ignites your calves, which haven’t even had time to stretch.

Then, normally, you’re presented with a choice: cross the turf or pavement? Due to some recent drug activity on campus, and “canine fecal releases” on the turf, that choice is made for you, and the walk now includes a longer path around the turf. Finally, you must cross the Middle School campus and walk up the endless staircase and into the main office. 

I remember the first day I parked there and made that walk. Once I got into the Upper School building, I texted my friends, joking about our parking lots being in literally a different neighborhood than campus. 

“Ben,” one at another local school responded, “that can’t be right.”

Oh, but it is. This just gives some context as to what other Maryland high schools have in terms of parking. Our situation, to a peer, seems unbelievable. To us, though, it’s the norm.

“I mean, obviously I’d like to park closer to school, but I get it,” says senior Noah Moylan, who drives to school. “[It’s] inconvenient but understandable.”

Noah, too, has some insight about what other schools have in terms of parking. However, Noah’s intel tells us that perhaps FSB doesn’t have it so bad.

“I mean, at St. Pauls, you have to walk all the way up that massive hill,” he reports.

Noah is of the “It is what it is” school of thought when it comes to parking. It sucks. It frustrates him. But there’s no changing it.

“It can’t be fixed,” he says.

But as I talked to him, he didn’t have the same ire that I did about it. Maybe that’s because it’s nice outside right now. School hasn’t become the ever-accelerating roller coaster of assignments yet, and the sun still shows us mercy by burning away the cold of night.

“It’s not bad,” Noah told me – “until winter.”

As the weather gets colder, the air hits you like javelins of ice as you exit your car. The soil loses its softness and turns steely and unforgiving. The wind is cold enough that it sometimes seems like it may shatter your face. And if the wind doesn’t, the stress of the looming school days ahead just might. 

“You can’t walk through the fields or you’ll ruin your shoes,” says senior driver Graham Rifkin. Unlike Noah, Graham got a preview of the parking situation as a freshman when his sister drove him to school every morning. He says that even then, he could tell it was a rough walk. A soccer player, Graham says the walk is even worse after practice.

“We’re getting out of practice at 5:30 or so, and then walking back with sore legs.” 

More serious than the inconvenience of the walk is the safety concerns raised by several girls in my class. They all agreed that, after dark, the area around the parking lot is not the greatest place to be, and unfortunately that’s especially true for young women. Again, this is worse in the winter, when the sun sets earlier and earlier every day.

Whether your reasons are petty, like mine, or more serious, like worrying for your safety every evening, the parking at Friends is an ordeal. One that, as seniors with enough on our plates, we shouldn’t have to deal with.