Not in OS X's spelling dictionary, but defined in minivan.

I'm an idiot. Last night, I parked in a bus stop. Right smack in the middle of it. I know it's a bus stop. I've passed by it a million times knowing that I'm not allowed to park there. The reason I didn't realize what I was doing last night was because:
A) It was dark.
B) There were 5 other cars parked in the same bus stop.

Usually, I can tell at a glance where the bus stop begins, because the line of cars stops there. I only look at the sign to see if the last space before the stop is available. Since I saw a space in the middle of a line of cars, I didn't even think to check if I was too far down the street, and I grabbed it. Bill and I walked back to the apartment with the groceries, neither one of us thinking even for a second that I had done anything wrong. In fact, this afternoon when I went to look for my car, I got worried because I thought I had parked about 3/4 of the way down the block, close to where the bus stop starts. When I could see the bus stop sign and hadn't yet found my car, I assumed that my car had been stolen, or that a drunk prankster had moved the sign to another streetlight. But then there I found my car, still amongst five others, sitting in the bus stop with a ticket on the windshield. In the picture below, you'll see that the bus stop (marked by the blue, white, and red signs) is the space between the two streetlights. My car was in the empty space in front of the Volvo. As I was taking this picture, even in the daylight, I saw three cars attempt to park where I had before realizing that it was a bus stop and pulling out.

The officer's handwriting was expectedly bad. The "Officer's Signature" and "Officer's Printed Name" fields contained the same exact scribble. And, if it wasn't my car, I would have misinterpreted two out of the six characters that were written as my plate number. There is no "5" or "7" on my license plate, unlike how it looks on the ticket:

At least the officer identified my car as "blue," unlike the last time when my slightly dirty vehicle was identified as "grey." That was just mean.

After retrieving my ticket, I had the pleasure of trying to convince some guy that the space he was parking in, between the two cars shown above, was actually a bus stop. This is not the first time I've done this, and people are usually very thankful for my help. This guy, however, thought I was saving a space for a friend, and didn't believe me. I was trying to help him out, but I don't like to be doubted, so I hope he gets a ticket. (Update: He got one.) In the picture, I've highlighted the unmarked "red zone" of no parking. As you can see, the minivan is also parked illegally.

This space was already part of a confusing series of signs, but now it's actually impossible to tell where the bus stop ends, unless you know that the hole shown above is the official barrier between legal and illegal. It used to contain a sign, but it was removed at some point over the summer, reappeared on the ground for a day in September, and then disappeared again. Instead of replacing the sign, the Maryland Transit Administration has responded by giving tickets nearly every day to people who park there under the assumption that it's a legal parking space.
(Update - 3/8/2006: While packing up my car last Friday, I saw the sign lying behind a dumpster in the alley between the apartment buildings.)

And don't get me started on the parking problems that have been elevated by the Baltimore residents' continuing war on students. Hopkins is the only thing besides the aquarium that brings the city any respect, and without us, their property values would plunge into nothingness. Perhaps they should focus on those responsible for making 1 in 10 adult males in Baltimore a drug addict.

Posted: Sunday - November 06, 2005 at 01:09 PM