Let me start by saying that I don't usually accost cops. Let me add that I’m a big believer in state public universities and I know that UMass Boston is highly respected. Some of my best friends studied or taught there.
I had my first and last visit yesterday, to read from Lillian’s Last Affair, and to lead a discussion on aging and sexuality at an event sponsored by the Osher Life Long Learning Institute. The class of about 50 older people was lovely; the session went very well; I sold about a dozen books. I forgot to take a photo.
But getting to and from the class was too nasty to bear.
I was told to park in the distant Bayside lot and take the frequent shuttle bus to Campus Central. My GPS led me right into the crowded lot where a guy in a fluorescent vest signaled me to go to the next section. There a guy in a fluorescent vest signaled me to go to the next section. This went on until I was at the end of the world. I had asked the second guy where the shuttle bus stopped and he told me there was only the one bus-stop – at the entrance to the lot. I had asked the third guy as well and got the same reply.
It was raining and blowing hard. I was wearing a porkpie hat and a silk jacket. I had a small wheelie full of books and a large bag with my other presentation materials. I unloaded and fought the rain and wind, holding an umbrella, and hiked over uneven gravelly terrain with a complaining four-wheel suitcase and got to the shuttle, maybe 3/4 of a mile or more.
At Campus Central I de-barked the shuttle quite far from the front door and made an awkward dash for the entrance as the weather was worsening. Inside the building I walked the equivalent of a few blocks to the elevators that took me to the second floor where I walked a few more confusing blocks through what they call The Maze and over a catwalk into the next building where I eventually found another bank of elevators. Here I took the elevator to the third floor where I walked more halls to room 207A – yes, 207A is on the third floor. Go figure.
All went well at my reading and I packed up and went to retrace my steps. I stopped by the office to thank the woman who had pulled together the event, but she was at a meeting. I returned the whole torturous way to the lobby of Campus Central only to realize that the woman had never given me the promised parking pass. Otherwise I’d have to pay.
By this point I’m weighing whether or not it is worth returning once again and I decide to do it. At the office I wait a long time as no one seems to know where the passes are – despite the fact that I had reminded them on my arrival.
Okay, I return the whole route back to Campus Central only to find that the rain has turned into a monsoon, with impossible winds (too much for an umbrella) and drenching rains. I beg a plastic bag for my hat, take off my silk jacket and stuff it in the suitcase, and then put the carry bag on my shoulder under my over-jacket (made out of absorbent cotton). I’m dripping just in the time it takes to rush to the shuttle bus. When we are dumped at the entrance to the parking lot, I realize that the hike to my car will cost me the 15 books I am carrying – they don’t fancy a shower.
I see a suspicious SUV about a block away and rush over. Yes, it is a campus police car. I pound on the passenger window. The cop doesn’t know what to do. I pound some more. He lowers the window an inch. “Open the doors!” I scream. He lowers the window another inch. “Open the doors. I can’t make it!”
He unlocks the doors. I open the back door and toss my suitcase onto the seat and jump into the passenger seat in the front. “I’m parked at the very end of the far lot and I simply cannot make it on my own. You need to drive me there.”
“I’ve never done that,” he says.
“Always a first time,” I insist, gasping and dripping and swearing under my breath.
He drives me while I blather about the lack of accessibility for people with disabilities, older people, exhausted people, people schlepping precious books in a downpour.
UMass, if you only want young, healthy people to darken your doorstep, then continue in your inconsiderate ways. If you want the whole community, add three or four shuttle stops inside the parking lot – a very simple, inexpensive solution for what is now an appalling situation. Until you do, hello and goodbye. We’re through.