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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Inside ticket to the Brandeis parking office

Published: January 25, 2008
Section: Features

At the time, she took the job out of need. Tia Oliver, ’10, was saving up for a trip to Texas with her mother when a friend who worked in Brandeis’ parking office told her of an open position. Oliver, who had already worked at Phonathon and for Aramark, decided to give it a try and speaks of her job in the parking office with fondness.

Oliver has worked at the parking office since the Spring of 2007 and loves her job. A flexible schedule at the parking office allows her room to play around with her schedule when needed, but she averages between 11-20 hours a week in a “very laid back” environment. Oliver described how her experience has been entertaining from the start. Her initial one on one interview turned into an unconventional group interview during which she won over Brandeis escort workers. Oliver met her co-worker Michelle Chiefe and they hit it off from the start, turning into good friends.

Data input and encounters with aggressive customers are all in a day’s work for Oliver, who deals with customers that try to cheat their way out of parking violations. She described that many people say they are unaware of parking hours, thereby revealing that they knew all along that there would be ticketing. Oliver described this and stories of drivers dodging tickets by driving away while the cop is ticketing them, saying that sometimes “people don’t understand there are rules and regulations in the parking office.” Oliver, who doesn’t have a car on campus herself, pointed out that having a car is a “privilege” which people sometimes abuse.

Oliver loves the intimate environment which the small size of the parking office affords its employees. “I like that environment where you can do fun stuff,” she said, citing how coworkers recently remembered her birthday and had a cake to celebrate.

Working at the parking office is “interesting because of the number of people you encounter throughout the day,” Michelle Chiefe ’08, says. Chiefe has worked in the parking office since fall of her freshman year. Of the parking office, Chiefe says, “because it’s a smaller office, it’s more intimate and you can get to know everybody personally.”

Because of the parking offices’ intimate atmosphere, its workers can build meaningful relationships. Chiefe said her favorite aspect of her job is “the people I work with because everybody’s so interesting and friendly,” adding “it’s not even like I have coworkers, they’re like my friends.”

But of course, like with any job, there are cons to working in the parking office. “The worst part is dealing with customers that aren’t patient,” Oliver said, referencing the most challenging aspect of her job. Dealing with customers and working through problems has taught Oliver that “communication skills are key” and that “you need to know how to talk to people,” since all of her jobs deal with communication. In high school, Oliver was very quiet, but working in the parking office has helped her learn to deal with aggressive customers, understand people and their problems, and has taught her flexibility.

Chiefe’s work ranges from dealing with ticket citations, handing out permits, and working the customer service window. She echoed Oliver’s sentiments in saying, “customer service” is sometimes difficult in working in the parking office since “it’s not always easy satisfying [customers’] needs.” Regardless of the difficult aspects, Chiefe’s is a job which she would recommend to other students. Like Oliver, Chiefe cited communication as important, saying “you have to have patience and be able to talk to people.”

Many people often deal with requests from friends who want to share in on the perks of a job. People in the dining services industry often confront conveniently hungry friends, but Oliver deals with something different. Tough love is one thing which she must distribute regularly because of her position, often dealing with friends who request to get tickets fixed. But she explains the need to separate friendship and her job “because I don’t want people to walk all over me.”

In spite of this difficulty, Oliver said “it has been a good experience because I get to meet people who care about me every day.” Oliver also cited the opportunity to get to know the public safety officers and the “laid back” environment.

Working in close proximity to the Public Safety department has taught Chiefe valuable life lessons such as she stated. “Follow the rules, and everyone can live peacefully.” She added that “everybody thinks they have special circumstances” and wants to get rid of tickets. Chiefe described how many students make their parents deal with their growing balance of parking citations rather than dealing with the parking office directly.

Many people may have preconceived notions about the parking office since it must be disciplinary, but Oliver and Chiefe break these misconceptions in speaking with them. “I’m a pretty nice person,” Oliver said, and described how many people think that it’s the parking office employees themselves who ticket cars.

Primarily because of its disciplinary function, the parking office and its employees often get a bad rep, but Chiefe would like people to realize that everything is not always as it seems. Speaking fondly of head of the office, Donna Cottens, Chiefe said “she’s the sweetest lady ever…she’s a great boss [and] I love her.”