I Cheated.

Have you ever been caught cheating? I have.

It’s pretty embarrassing, and it hurts the other person desperately and I’m ashamed that I ever did it. I have spent every day since trying to make up for it, but I don’t think he has really ever forgiven me and I have to live with what I did to him.

Yep, I cheated. I cheated on my parking garage. Oh wait—you thought I cheated in a relationship?! So this is what happened…

I go to law school in San Francisco and I have class three nights a week. San Francisco is notoriously known for terrible or even no parking anywhere across the city­­ and there is one parking garage across the street from my school that I use on the regular. I usually try to get to SF early enough to get street parking, but it is DOG EAT DOG out in these streets! I really like the parking garage: all of the attendants are super friendly and know me by name. I feel completely comfortable with them keeping my car. I’ve left money sitting in the seat and have come back and it’s still there. They are totally trustworthy. But here’s the problem: they are so expensive. I’m in San Francisco usually two and a half hours each day, and parking in this garage is a flat $15 fee after 4:00pm. When I first started going to this garage, it was right before the holidays and I was feeling very generous, so I was giving them a tip of $5+ per day. And I did it so often, I started to feel like if I didn’t give them a generous tip, I wasn’t appreciative of them. That’s $20+ a day to park. That’s $60 a week. That’s $240—at least—per month. Just to park my car. I realized that was getting pretty ridiculous, but they were great guys and the closest to my school.

One day, as I was getting ready to turn into the Ritz Carlton of parking garages, I noticed a sign. It said “Garage Full.” I didn’t even know what this meant for me. Where would I go? Who was going to park my car? I was lost, but also running late so I had to think quickly. As I circled the block, I drove down this raggedy alley on the back side of the block across from my school and I saw a driveway going underground. What’s this? I thought. Is this… another parking garage?! It was. IT WAS. I pulled into this foreign territory unsure of what I was going to find, and there it was, a “Pull Forward” sign, where an attendant was waiting for me. He gave me a ticket and I gave him my keys. I went on my merry way. When it was time to leave, I went to pay and they told me the cost: $11. ELEVEN DOLLARS. That would save me FOUR DOLLARS each time I parked, and because the attendants went home at 8pm and I got out of school at 9:10 pm, I wouldn’t have to tip! It was half what I was paying! I literally felt like I found the underwater city of Atlantis!

It was so good. When I wanted good service, I went to my regular guys. When I wanted to save a few bucks, I went to my underground guys. It was perfect. And they never had to find out about each other. And it’s crazy, because I was sloppy about my cheating too—I would leave the parking tickets in my car all willy-nilly, like I wanted to get caught or something. My regular guys never said anything, but I know they knew. I wasn’t coming around like I used to. They had to know but didn’t want to admit it.

One day, I was dog tired. I couldn’t wait to get out of class. I went to my underground guys to park, but when walking out of class, I forgot I didn’t park with my regular guys and walked up to their desk and handed the attendant my ticket.

“She doesn’t love us anymore. Look, she doesn’t love us anymore!” He kept repeating this to his fellow attendant.

I had a look of confusion on my face, because I knew he couldn’t possibly be talking about me. I looked around at the cars and didn’t see mine, and then it dawned on me—I parked at my side garage!

“I do love you! I do! I promise I do!” I screamed, as I watched the twinkle for me leave his eyes. “Why did I not park here today?” I exclaimed, asking him, but really asking myself. “Oh—the lot was full!” Good thinking Whit—blame it on him.

“If it says full and it’s after 4pm, still come in and we’ll take care of you,” he told me.

Dang. “Okay, will do!” I said as I ran out. My face was flushed, and my heart was pounding out of my chest. I had been caught. Months of playing them both, thinking no one was getting hurt. Giving excuses, flaunting my discretions in his face, how dare I! I was pathetic. Just a dog. And I had been found out.

Loyalty really is expected in all areas of life. I truly did not understand this until that moment. Whether it’s your significant other or your butcher, people expect loyalty. And I think it’s reasonable to hold everyone to this level of accountability. I will try to make it up to my parking garage attendants every day for the rest of my school life.