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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Nov. 17, 2006

Kim Hasstedt

MU parking ramp attendant Kim Hasstedt out in the elements she has enjoyed watching from her workspace for 24 years. Photo by Bob Elbert.

A room with a view

by Erin Rosacker

A hillside is peppered with trees and shrubs all turning the magnificent colors of fall. A creek flows nearby. Wildlife is abundant, but so is the ebb and flow of people hiking along the path. Picturesque, no matter what the season, especially when viewed from your office window.

Turn your attention inside to the "office" and you'll find little more than a cement box, approximately five-feet square, to sit in -- alone -- for eight hours each day. If you ask Kim Hasstedt, it's the best spot on campus. She should know. She's been working there for 24 years.

"The first big snow, before there's many people out there walking, it glitters," Hasstedt said. "It's just a very pretty place to work. It's as close to working outside as I can get without actually being outside."

Hasstedt, the parking ramp attendant at the Memorial Union, has a unique perspective of Iowa State from her office. Since she started in January of 1982, the scope of her job as the only full-time attendant has changed very little. Now it includes hiring, training and scheduling the nine part-time student employees to staff the booth 24/7.

The exit booth, on the northeast corner of the ramp, sits under the grooved spiral that rumbles as cars travel downward. The rumbling is important, because it -- along with a bank of monitors with views of the entrances -- signals just how long an attendant has for a dash to the restroom that is a part of the tiny space. Other amenities added over the years include a microwave, computer, TV and dorm fridge. Central heat and air conditioning were also a welcome addition.

Time flies

Born and raised in Ames, Hasstedt's parents both worked at Iowa State. Her father was an accountant in Engineering and her mother was a secretary who spent her final years of employment in the Engineering College as well. Hasstedt spent four years as a CyRide driver, and one year each as an officer with the Ames Police Department and ISU's department of public safety before taking what she thought would be another short-term job.

"When I first started here, I didn't think I would be here very long," Hasstedt said. "When I was hired, I was engaged. A lot of things have happened in the last 20-whatever years."

Now she sees her children's friends driving through the ramp and thinks "it just doesn't seem possible." Her son Kristopher is a junior at ISU, and she has two daughters, 23-year-old Kelly and 17-year-old Katie.

Don't I know you from somewhere?

After 24 years in the same chair, Hasstedt is a familiar face to many. Alumni recognize her as a mainstay from their college days. On a trip to the grocery store or the mall, someone may tell her she looks familiar, but they can't quite place her.

"I'll say, 'I bet you park at the ramp,' and they'll say, 'That's it!'" Hasstedt explains. "This is my claim to fame."

She has "regulars" come through every day, including an estimated 100 staff members with ramp permits. Hasstedt also sees special visitors who come to campus. Dorothy and Richard Pride, son of the late Col. Harold Pride, make regular visits to the Memorial Union. The Colonel served as director from 1928 to 1959 and a room is named after him.

"They usually come through twice a year and it's always nice to see them," Hasstedt said.

She doesn't remember any famous stars coming through the ramp, but she had several days of dealing with the Secret Service when President Bill Clinton made a stop at the MU for the National Rural Conference in 1995.

What is the strangest thing she's seen exit the ramp? A snake.

"I'm sitting here making change, I turn around to give it back and there is a snake right there," Hasstedt said. "This guy had a snake. I think I uttered a few choice words. It was a big snake."

Stolen cars and lost tickets

Forget where you parked? You're not alone. According to Hasstedt, people lose their cars all the time. Since cars don't get stolen from the ramp, and very rarely get towed, Hasstedt offers to help patrons look for a lost vehicle. Some will swear up and down that their car was stolen.

"At that point, I'll say, 'How about we call DPS and have them come over here,'" Hasstedt said with a smile. "And then they always find it."

A lost ticket means you owe $20 -- a common occurrence, which Hasstedt estimates happens about three times a week. But she gives drivers pointers on the top spots to look -- under the seat or wherever it could land after sliding across the dashboard. Sometimes drivers will pull up, tell her they lost their ticket and give her the $20.

"At that point, I figure they've probably been here a while and got out fairly cheap," Hasstedt said.

Changing of the guard

As the MU ramp moves toward an automated parking system that will eliminate the need for an attendant, Hasstedt has mixed emotions about leaving her "office," with its beautiful view and what she calls "a pretty stress-free job" that hasn't seen very many bad days.

Details about her new duties are still being worked out, but she probably still will deal with parking ramp patrons in some manner, possibly as a cashier at the MU's hotel front desk.

"Things are going to change, but I do hope that I can get out and amongst some of the people that I've seen through here," Hasstedt said. "I'm bound to run into somebody I know. And you can bet I'll take the opportunity to chat with them."


"It's as close to working outside as I can get without actually being outside."

Kim Hasstedt