Sophomore parking lot contains GDP of a small nation

Extravagance of parking lot inspires sense of inadequacy in non-inhabitants


Will Bradford, Guest Columnist

Recently, I was having a conversation with a soon-to-be-geed from my high school who had been accepted to Wake Forest and was looking to me for guidance in his college search. As I surveyed his pastel-colored outfit and recalled how many times I had heard him say, “I mean, what kind of person won’t be friends with someone over their political beliefs?” I could not help but feel that he would fit in perfectly here. Our conversation progressed past questions about the pointless busywork and toxic Greek culture until he finally asked me the penultimate question of them all: “So, do you have your car on campus?”

You know that overused trope in movies where the camera zooms in on the main character’s pupil to reveal a scene that provides some context or backstory to explain the current conflict? Yeah, I really dislike when they do that, too.

Cue said zoom-in — anyway, it’s the end of the summer before my sophomore year. As I cruise down the highway nearing Winston-Salem, feeling the road against the tires of my silver 2011 Honda Accord, I can not help but feel a sense of invincibility, something like the ecstasy one experiences after placing a bet against the Wake Forest men’s basketball team. I have been listening to “Dance Monkey” on repeat for the last five hours of my drive, and am ready to be back in the forest. As I pull onto University Parkway, I watch a pledge driver narrowly avoid creating an 18-car pileup.

“Must be Sig Chi,” I think to myself. As I hit that one u-turn it finally dawns on me: I am finally back for two more semesters of watered-down COVID college.

As I roll into the sophomore parking lot for the first time, I feel my heart drop into my stomach. What lies in front of me is a veritable combination Jeep-Range Rover dealership. My eyes are accosted with row after row of cars bearing Connecticut, New Jersey and Massachusetts license plates. I feel sick to my stomach.

As my lowly Honda navigates past the endless rows of Jeep Wranglers, I can not help but feel a sense of inadequacy, similar to the way communication majors must feel when they come home for Thanksgiving and their parents ask if they are still “doing that.” With each passing Rover, whether of Land or Range variety, I feel my excitement for this semester diminish bit by painful bit. I feel like I have to tell someone, anyone. These words of frustration are about to explode out of me, similar to those of a transfer student who constantly reminds everyone about how they just “didn’t fit in” at the first school they went to.

And so, with the winds of determination in my sails, I set out to talk to some other students. Do they also feel a sense of shame driving their car, I wonder? Does the inevitable scoff from the kids who pay $560 for those ugly, fake Converse sneakers with sparkles poured on them weigh on their minds, too?

In order to maintain the anonymity of those interviewed, I will identify them simply by their clothing. First, I talked to a student in a “DEKES” shirt. I assumed from the look of a terrified animal in his eyes that he must have been one of their newer friends.

Now, for those who don’t know, it was actually the original founder of DKE who first said, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.” As I looked down at my new acquaintance, I could not help but feel inspired by the aura of confidence he exuded.

Our interview ended quickly, however, as he quickly confessed he drove a 2020 Forerunner (with a roof rack).

I next interviewed a student wearing over-the-knee cargo shorts and sandals, and as he moved his tuba out of the way to shake my hand, I felt that I had found someone with whom I could sympathize. And yet, as our conversation progressed, it seemed that he, too, drove a chariot which dwarfed my own.

Again and again, this vicious cycle repeated: I would approach one of my fellow students, only to discover that they, too, were part of the reason that the sophomore lot could be confused with the parking lot of a UFC event in Dubai. And as the sun set over Wait Chapel, I could not help but hear a voice in the back of my mind intermittently whispering “loser” and “geed,” as if the two aren’t one and the same.