Inspired by Mama Kats and written for my 9th grade students as a model paper for their personal narratives this week. :)
You would think having your own car as a senior in HS was enough for a girl, but I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted more. I wanted my own parking space! I’d do anything for a parking sticker! Yes, it’s true. My HS, although quite large, was very limited when it came to parking spaces. So only seniors got to park on campus and to top it off you had to get a space by winning a lottery! If you didn’t win the lottery you had to park across the busy street with the other peons.
My homeroom teacher, Mrs. Clark, was a sweet lady in her early 50’s. Her husband was the band director and she was a respected older teacher who had taught English for years. We had homeroom everyday for about 20 minutes with the same teacher, so she knew me well. This is where the lottery would be conducted. On the day of the lottery everyone was hoping they would get a parking spot. Many seniors would get one but there were many who wouldn’t. I was sure I would get one since I wanted it to badly.
Why was it such a big deal to me? Lots of reasons. The most important reason was prestige. All the popular jocks and jocketts had one (or so I thought). The second reason was lunch. If you had to wait to cross the street and find your car then your lunch time was significantly reduced and I had my priorities straight. Another reason was convenience. Who wants to park ½ mile away when you can park within seconds of the schools door and not ever be tardy!
As Mrs. Clark began the lottery she explained, “I will give you a piece of paper with a number. Then I will put the same numbers into a hat and pull them out. This class has 10 parking spots. The first 10 numbers I call will get a parking spot. The rest of you will have to park across 50th street in the shopping center with the other peons.” OK she didn’t say peons, but I know she was thinking that because I was. As Mrs. Clark started pulling numbers out and handing out parking stickers, I started to get nervous. My number hadn’t been called.
Finally she got to the last number and called it out. It wasn’t my number. But no one responded either. Out of the corner of my eye I saw this kid, Rick, had fallen asleep. Rick was one of those kids who always slept and was about 5 minutes behind everyone in doing things and being prepared. I dismissed him as being a stoner. On impulse I raised my hand. Mrs. Clark cheerfully handed me my parking pass. She didn’t even ask to see my number It had worked! I got one! Too bad about the stoner Rick I thought. He doesn’t even know what is going on. If anyone deserves a spot it’s not him. It’s me.
As the bell rang and everyone got up, Rick says “Dude I thought I heard you call number 17.”
“I did call it,” Mrs. Clark replied.
“Well I have it.” He shouted happily showing her.
Oh shoot I thought. Now what do I do. I tried to slip out when I heard her call my name. “Melva, didn’t you say you had number 17?”
“Yes, Mam,” I replied.
“Well.” She was baffled. I could tell she didn’t know what or who to believe. I mean, me or the sleepy stoner- come on.
“Let me see your number, Melva.”
Oh gosh I had to think fast. “I threw it away.” I feebly lied.
And she saw right through me. I could feel it. My face burned with embarrassment. “Go dig it out of the trash.” She demanded. I stooped so low as to go look for it, even though everyone in there knew, including her, that I was lying. But there was no turning back.
“Well” She said finally, “ I’ll figure something out. For now just go to class.”
With my face burning, and heart heart thumping, I took off like a flash. I would have to return it. But how? Not now, I was too embarrassed.
As I raced to my next class I would hear the typical hallway chatter and the girl behind me was bragging how she got a parking pass and didn’t even have a car. I was stunned. What????? I stopped on the stairs and nearly fell over backwards when I saw it was someone I know. “Hey Melissa,” I quickly begged, “Can I have your parking sticker? I didn’t get one.”
“Oh sure, I don’t even have a car.”
“I know, I know,” I groaned.
You would think that I went back to Mrs. Clark and apologized for lying. But I didn’t. I was too humiliated to admit I lied. Instead, I ran back and sheepishly handed her the pass and mumbled, “Someone had an extra one, so Rick can have mine.” She smiled with the same smile I use on my students. The one that says, “I understand you can’t come clean and it’s ok, but really it’s not, because now I don’t completely trust you.”
Believe it or not that is one of my lowest moments. A moment I have never repeated, nor do I plan to. I don’t like what I did and it completely goes against my character. I regret that not only did I lie to begin with, but also, I never came clean to her. She would have understood. Instead everyday in her presence for the rest of the year I felt she could see I was a lier. I felt fake. No parking spot is worth that.