Of GREs, Dante, and the Dark Lords of Legislature

A fun-filled day, yesterday was.  I spent half an hour driving around the GRE testing facility.  See, the parking lot outside was filled with signs, saying NO PARKING WITHOUT PERMIT F3.  I drove to the adjacent parking lot, yet it, too, bore the signs.  NO PARKING WITHOUT PERMIT F3.  There was only one spot that was different, near the back, with a sign that said TWO HOUR PARKING.  The GRE is a four-hour test.

So then I wandered next door to the county courthouse, looking for parking, which was probably the least intelligent thing I’ve done in a long time.  Yes, the courthouse has about four square miles of parking lots.  But every single one of them requires a permit of some kind.  POLICE PARKING ONLY, read one, and JURY PARKING ONLY, read another.  NO PARKING WITHOUT PERMIT 666, read a third.

Next I tried side streets.  No such luck.  Every side street I came across had the sign: NO PARKING BETWEEN 8 AM AND 6 PM EXCEPT SATURDAYS, SUNDAYS, HOLIDAYS, AND THE SECOND TUESDAY OF EVERY MONTH ON LEAP YEARS.  It was 4:12 on a Friday.  I traveled at least a mile in every direction, but every side street had those signs.

(If Chris is traveling in a circle around point GRE with a radius of 1 mile and a diameter of 2 miles, what is the circumference of the area he has traveled?)


At first I began to wonder whether this was the first text of the examination.  (If the student can find a legal parking space, he/she gets 25 points.)  But no, I realized.  The maze of one-way signs and strange parking regulations was not due to the GRE center, but to the nearby courthouse.  The Dark Lords of Legislature and Judiciary feared the arrival of a hero, who was prophecied to one day storm their courthouse citadels and force them to yield to the laws of common sense.  And so, to trap such a hero, they filled their Dark Land with parking signs and one-way labyrinths, to ensnare the hero in a web of red tape more entangling than the silk of Shelob.

And although this hero was only here to conquer the GREs, not the Dark Lords, I found myself just as ensnared.  In the end, I parked my car illegally with an air of resignation, and walked across the lot to the door of the GRE building.




There was a plaque over the door to the building, bearing a snatch of some sort of Italian poetry.

Per me si va ne la citte dolente,
per me si va ne l’etterno dolore,
per me si va tra la perduta gente.
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate.

My Italian is rusty, and I wished I had Einar with me.  All I knew was that it said something about sorrow, and the first word of the last line was “Abandon,” and then it said something about hope.




I entered the building and met one of the proctors.

“Hi, my name is Chris Russo, and I’m here to take the GREs?” said I.

“Did you drive today, Mr. Russo?” he asked, making a notation on his clipboard.

“Yes I did.”

“Please put this on your dashboard,” quoth he, handing me a document.  It was a temporarily granted Permit F3.


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