Pain in the asphalt

Instagram account posts poor parking pictures

When nearly half of Bloomington-Normal’s newly licensed drivers are forced to put their skills to the test all in the same parking lot, chaos is bound to ensue. 

Throw in some other variables — from hitting snooze one too many times to trying to retrieve the cell phone that fell into an abyss between the seat and the center console — and chaos might just be the best case scenario. 

Whether it’s the 100s of students recreating their favorite “Fast and Furious” scene as they try to exit the parking lot or navigating the caravan of parents who posted up along Raab at noon to pick up their kids, Normal Community’s parking lot is just a little more civil than the island in “Lord of the Flies.”

And more interesting too — especially to one observer of Community’s social behavior, who, like Jane Goodall with the gorillas, is documenting students’ unfortunate attempts at parking. 

While staying inside the lines is a skill Unit 5 attempts to teach in elementary school, it seems the student body is less than proficient. Community’s parking lot and a new Instagram account — @nchsbadparking — indicate that pulling in might be the most challenging task students have to pull off on any given day.

To take action over the consistently lousy parking jobs, one anonymous student took to Instagram — and took pictures — to share their grievances on Nov. 10. 

In late fall, high school “bad parking” accounts began to pop up on social media across the nation. 

On Instagram and TikTok, students showcased their bad parking pages, and all over the United States, other high school students followed their lead, documenting their classmates not following proper parking protocol.

An Instagram search for “bad parking” reveals hundreds of high school and college accounts. 

Locally, Bloomington, U-High, West (whose page went active 4 days before ours, finally beating Community at something), Tri-Valley, and Olympia all have bad parking pages on Instagram. 

The #badparking hashtag had over 72,500 posts at the time of this writing.  

The student who runs @nchsbadparking began posting pictures of vehicles parked poorly, blurring their license plates, in early November, requesting submissions submitted via direct message. 

But, unlike the account creator, it was hard for the poor parkers to remain anonymous for long. 

One such student was Anchita Sayani. Sayani’s appearance on the Instagram page was notable enough for her friends to repost the image to their own Instagram stories and tag the senior. 

Sayani was running late to school on the morning of Nov. 17 and had a feeling she was going to end up on the page when she got out of her car, Sayani said. 

Sayani’s fears were confirmed as she scrolled through Instagram and happened to see her lime green Ford Fiesta. Sayani’s car is the most-liked post on the page besides a picture of a school bus. 

Sayani saw the humor of the post and got in on the joke herself. 

“All my friends and other people were reposting it because they knew it was me. So I reposted it myself at that point,” Sayani said. 

From the student to the teacher’s parking lot no one can hide from @nchsbadparking. 

Even cars that have the ability to park themselves have appeared on the account.

The student running the account recognizes the idea is not an original one, but a needed one. 

The account’s goal, they said, was to “motivate [students] to park better” in a humorous way. 

The student behind the account thinks that Community’s parking has improved since the page began, resulting in a lack of material to post. 

“Admittedly, it’s hard to find new content now that’s worth posting,” the student said. “The page has largely served its purpose, and that’s why content has slowed down.”

This account was the first of several unaffiliated Community Instagram accounts bent on a form of public shaming like @nchsredflags page and @nchs_caught_sleeping. 

But unlike @nchsbadparking, the imitator accounts’ content lacks the social commentary angle of their predecessor and, at times, have crossed the line into bullying. 

“Some will argue [the page] spread[s] negativity by calling out those who park badly,” the anonymous student said, “but I saw it more as a way to… motivate them to park better.”

 

Editor’s note: The interview with the @nchsbadparking account holder was conducted via direct message to preserve the source’s anonymity.