The Parking Lot: Whose Fault is It?
March 24, 2022
Since my early days at SOA, I have heard myths and legends about the recklessness of the student drivers at Academic Magnet. As a freshman, I was shielded from this chaos in the temperate environment of the car line, where (mostly) responsible parent drivers dwelled. I had never witnessed the barbarous nature of the parking lot in the flesh, and had nearly forgotten its existence during the Dark Ages (2020).
My return to school for Junior year had instantly brought these tails to fruition, as I found myself caught in the abyss of stalled cars and aggressive SUVs with Magnet stickers clinging onto the back window for dear life.
If you drive, then you know what I mean when I say that the first honk is the most difficult. When I started driving to school and back, there were at least ten times where my hand hovered over the wheel, beckoning my brain to let it slam on the horn, but my brain wouldn’t allow it. Magnet drivers turned this hesitation into an uncensored frenzy.
Allow me to introduce you to “The Three-Way Stop.” In a perfect world, this is the point in the parking lot where every car waits its turn to file into the single narrow exit where the lot meets the car line. One car takes its turn, and the car behind it patiently waits for the other two stops to go before it takes its turn. Unfortunately, this is never the reality. Two cars go in a row, causing another car to slam on the breaks, causing a turn confusion, causing anger, causing not caring about the rules or anyone else, causing more cars to take their turns out of turn, turning turns into chaotic blurs.
But how do we sift through this chaos and determine that Magnet drivers are the root of this problem? Is this just SOA students’ way to hate on Magnet students, or are the tall tales actually not so tall?
As a proud AP Statistics student, I have been taught to conduct an experiment, not just base results off of surveying or word of mouth. Although the complexity of this potential experiment is limited, I decided to stand near the three-way stop, watch for cars cutting others off, and tally if their parking sticker was red or green (SOA or Magnet, respectively).
The results will shock you. From spending about ten minutes observing the traffic at the three way stop, I counted three SOA car cutoffs, six Magnet car cutoffs, and two unmarked car cutoffs (no sticker). From these short minutes, it appears that Magnet drivers cut off other drivers roughly twice as much as SOA drivers cut off other drivers.
Let us not conclude here. As a proud AP Statistics student, I have also been taught to identify lurking variables (I should also acknowledge the lack of replication for this experiment, but us staff writers have strict deadlines). Perhaps Magnet drivers are more aggressive because they park the furthest from the exit, which is located across from the SOA Middle School building. Sitting in that long line of cars must be irritating, and we SOA students don’t really know what it’s like to wait as long as they do. When they get to the three-way stop, perhaps they have been in the line for so long that they just can’t stand waiting any longer.
Perhaps the most aggressive SOA drivers get out of the parking lot early before the cars pile up, whereas the most aggressive Magnet drivers have a longer distance to cover, so what the average SOA driver sees are the most aggressive Magnet drivers and not SOA’s own.
Maybe, just maybe, if we add another exit or move the current exit to the middle of the parking lot, Magnet drivers won’t be so aggressive anymore, along with it just being more fair to everyone.”
Let us not show hostility to our brothers and sisters that share our home. Let us not leverage our status by complaining about how bad their students are at driving. Let us join hands together and raise questions about the limited exits to our campus. Why do SOA kids get the luxury of being so much closer to the exit? Is this fair? Maybe, just maybe, if we add another exit or move the current exit to the middle of the parking lot, Magnet drivers won’t be so aggressive anymore, along with it just being more fair to everyone.There is one more factor to this experiment I have not mentioned. As I stood near a large tree across from the three-way-stop tallying my results, I noticed a mother driving her middle school child out of the parking lot. She proceeded to cut off other drivers immediately and race towards the exit. Now, if there is anything SOA and Magnet drivers should unite on, it’s that parents should NOT be allowed to pick up their children in the parking lot. This loophole is not only unfair to the students exiting the lot, but it is also unfair to the respectful parents who wait patiently in the car line. I’m not a proponent of the “Karen Movement” but if this continues, I might have to reconsider.
I like to put myself in others’ shoes when I’m frustrated at them. With Magnet drivers, I can do this and sympathize with their long journey to the exit. With parents like this, I do not feel the same way, and this inspires me to shift the entire focus of this editorial.
So SOA drivers, let’s refocus our anger and attention to the unruly parents that choose to cut the lines and pick their kids up in the parking lot, and let’s show our friends at Academic Magnet that we are grateful to be their neighbors and that we understand their impatience and frustration.
Driving: A Rebuttal
Just as a quick introduction, you, the reader, should know that this article is a response to an article in the January issue of the SOA Newspaper, Applause by student writer, Ryan Hinske. (to the left of this article). Fellow Talon writer, William Hyatt, and I were classmates of Ryan at Daniel Island School – so shout out to him.
Since my early days at Magnet I have been a part of the after school madness. At first, I was a freshman running to cars in order to get a seat to baseball practice. Sophomore year, when I was finally able to drive, I had an awful parking lot spot that resulted in my doing my best rendition of John Ross’s NFL combine 4.22 second 40-yard dash. When we were taken into the “Dark Ages” per se, of quarantine and 2020 in general, we were briefly shielded from the cut-throat parking lot race.
I had an awful parking lot spot that resulted in my doing my best rendition of John Ross’s NFL combine 4.22 second 40-yard dash”
Returning to school as a junior landed me a much better spot; however, I was poor at navigating the parking lot. Thankfully, we were gifted a 2:00 early-out on B days, so I could plan my quickest route to the exit. After being screwed out of so many positions in line on A days, I realized that no matter how much planning I did, or how fast I ran, I would always have to drive a little more “aggressive” than I would like.
We have to be more aggro than we would like for a few reasons:
- We have roughly 100 more students than SOA (according to U.S. News online).
- We have to drive nearly, if not double the distance than SOA students.
- We observe natural selection as a fact.
- We understand that it’s never in our or anyone else’s best interest to hit anyone.
Since I did not take AP Statistics and I have no time to conduct an experiment (because I’m already out of the parking lot) I figured I would do a little in-depth analysis on each of these points. I’m going to go ahead and knock out points one and two in one paragraph because they go hand-in-hand. Since Magnet is an objectively larger high school, we are going to have more student drivers, which means more cars, which means more traffic. I think the parking lot overcrowding is so bad that the sophomores have begun parking in the neighborhood again just to get home quicker. Additionally, since our side of the parking lot is bigger (including the back row near the exit), the walking distance greatly varies. Some people speed walk the 25 yards to their cars; others do a dead sprint nearly 100 yards. While some are walking shorter distances, they are driving further. Others are running to make up the time; they run to their car and have a shorter drive out of the lot. There is a balance.
On the subject of natural selection, there are two sides. On one side, is the driver who knows that no one is dumb enough to jump out in front of them because it’s not worth it. On the other side, there are those who know that it’s not in anyone’s best interest to hit them, because it’s not worth it. While these opposing views sit at opposite ends of a spectrum, I would say that most Magnet students lie in the more moderate areas. Of those who roam the parking lot after 3:30, only the fittest, physically and mentally get out quickly.
You must always remember what is in your and their best interests. It’s super unlikely that people get in a wreck because someone is always more cautious and concedes. Think of the parking lot as a huge game of “Chicken”. If you’re willing to be more daring, it is more likely that you’ll be rewarded. Now I am not encouraging people to drive recklessly and get in wrecks, thus making our parking lot traffic even worse. But I am saying to keep your head on a swivel and pay attention. Don’t have your head buried in your phone either; it’s so annoying.
Ryan’s last, yet most important point is something I have to point out. He says “Let us not show hostility to our brothers and sisters that share our home… Let us join hands together and raise questions about the limited exits of our campus”. I couldn’t agree more with this. Instead of working against each other, we’ve got to work together to make change. Ryan’s idea about potentially adding another exit to the parking lot is valid as well. Moreover, as student drivers we must unite against the parents that park and drive through the student lot after school. It is so frustrating to see people parked on the sides of the parking lot or even coming into the lot when everyone is leaving.
So Magnet drivers, let’s refocus our frustrations. Take the rage off the pavement and to school officials. Let us be grateful to our neighbors and make sure to let parents know they can’t park in the student parking lot.