Friday, November 19, 2010

Take a Hike

The downside of living off-campus while a grad student at a mostly residential university is the lack of convenient parking. I have a parking permit that gives me permission to park on campus, but it doesn't guarantee that I will be able to find a parking space. Pair that with an overall lack of parking near my building, and it means that I generally have to walk approximately one mile from my car to my office. I've been doing this for a long time now, and I usually don't mind it. The weather is usually good, and I don't have much time for real exercise, so a nice walk twice a day isn't such a bad thing. But throw in lugging a heavy laptop and a stack of papers while dealing with hip and back pain from a third trimester pregnancy, and things get a bit awkward. I've been having trouble making it all the way to my office. And I know that things are just going to get worse over the next 7 weeks.

I mentioned this to Dr. M several weeks back, and he encouraged me to apply for a temporary disability parking placard. Simple DMV form, Dr. M signs it, and just like that, I can park in one of the dozen handicap parking spots that are always completely empty right outside my office. Problem solved!

So I sent in the form to the DMV, and waited for my placard. My hips got worse, my back got worse, and still I waited. The DMV promised that they generally process these things within two weeks, but it has already been much longer than that. When I woke up this morning unable to walk from my bed to the bathroom without painfully hobbling, much less walk a mile to my office, I decided enough was enough. So I called the DMV to check on why it was taking so long.

Skipping right past the part where I was on hold for a full 30 minutes, I finally got someone at the DMV on the phone, and I explained the problem. It turns out that they're "a bit backlogged at the moment," so that instead of taking two weeks to process the placards, it's currently taking them 8-10 weeks. So far, my application hasn't even been entered into the system. Keep in mind that these are temporary placards, which means that they're only good for a few months -- how are they useful to anyone if it takes 2-3 months just to process the request?!? By the time it arrives, I'll have given birth, so this is no longer of any use to me at all.

The woman did point out that I could get a new form, get my doctor to sign it again (they don't accept photocopies -- it needs to be an original signature, and the original is lost in DMVland at the moment, so I need to get a new one), and then take it in person to the DMV, where they will issue the placard same-day. However, I absolutely need to have an appointment; they will not process these requests if you just walk in and wait. And the next appointment at a DMV office within a 50-mile radius of my house is December 20, more than a month away. Again, not helpful.

At this point, I'm actually calculating how much it will cost me to park illegally for the rest of my pregnancy and just pay the parking tickets. Think I can write off parking tickets as a medical expense?


  1. I am so sorry you have to try to walk with your hip and back pain. I had major hip problems (too much relaxin) and couldn't stand for more than five minutes my last eight weeks of pregnancy. I can't imagine trying to walk that far with pain.

    Two ideas that you may have already had: (1) Does the university have a golf cart alternative? Perhaps they can come pick you up? I know when someone broke a leg they did that on my campus.
    (2) Could you borrow a rolling bag so you don't have to carry your stuff?

    Wishing you close parking spaces for the duration of your pregnancy!

  2. Oh no. Matt had that same problem in college, minus the third trimester. He has no cartilage in his left knee. As I recall, he got a fair number of parking tickets.

  3. Wow, your DMV is a pain in the butt (or hip & back)...sorry it's taking them so long.


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