By Eui-jo Marquez
By Eui-jo Marquez
On a campus full of cranky, sleep deprived students and hurried instructors, Aubree Hernandez and Damien Smith are two bright and shining faces.
Why are they so happy? They’d probably tell you it’s because they love their jobs.
Both Hernandez and Smith are traffic officers here at Riverside City College. They work part-time: five hour days, five days a week and make decent money. Both are students, Hernandez at RCC’s Norco campus and Smith at Cal Baptist.
Many students, especially those who have received traffic tickets, have an unfair bias against traffic officers.
“I don’t want to get people mad, but it’s my job,” Hernandez said. She has had just two negative encounters in her six months here. Sometimes she feels bad giving people tickets; sometimes she doesn’t want to.
“I just do my job, every day,” she said.
Smith feels the same way, “Most of the time I do feel bad because no one wants to pay twenty-five dollars,” he said.
Most students don’t even know that officers like Hernandez and Smith are even on campus.
“I don’t really notice them,” student Stephanie Cunanan said.
Traffic officers don’t just hand out tickets. They patrol the parking lots, ensuring that our belongings are safe. During peak times they direct traffic, relieving congestion. They enforce smoking regulations, make sure buildings are secure and keep campus safe for students.
“More often than not people are glad to see us,” said Joseph Sanchez, who has been a traffic officer for 10 years.
According to Sanchez, the hiring process is selective, ensuring only dedicated, tough, disciplined, and fair people become traffic officers. It also ensures that all employees love their job.
“It’s laid back and I get to help people,” said Smith, who often helps people locked out of their cars or with dead batteries. Smith will graduate in May with a Bachelor degree in Kinesiology Exercise Science, and he plans to continue working here until then. He also works as an assistant track coach.
Most of our time spent in the parking lot is stressful. We’re usually fretting over the homework we didn’t do or catch a few z’s before class.That’s why it’s surprising that the people who spend the most time in parking lots are so happy.
“I like working outside with people,” said Hernandez, who plans to work as a traffic officer for at least a year while she studies nursing.
“Some days, maybe on a Friday, I don’t want to give out tickets,” said Smith. Confrontations with students are bad but infrequent.
“Other than those moments of tension when finding parking is difficult or someone is upset about a ticket, I can’t say there’s really a bad day,” said Sanchez.
“We’re not trying to persecute you, we just want you to be in compliance,” he said. Complying is really simple. Don’t park without a permit, don’t park in the crosshatches and smile and say hi to the friendly traffic officers.