UNT parking booth operator spreads cheer to students and faculty
It’s a frigid, foggy Thursday morning at the corner of Avenue C and Chestnut Drive. Students have started their fruitful trudges toward their morning classes.
A few cars make their way through the four-way stop sign among the mix of mumbles from students walking close to each other to negate the almost freezing temperatures.
“Good morning!” a cheerful voice yells among the frustrated students.
Nicole Trower talks to the students that walk by, her voice resonating across the four glass walls of the tiny booth she proudly calls her workspace.
Trower has been the booth supervisor and parking coordinator for the Avenue C parking lot at UNT for 16 years but tries to do so much more for the campus.
“I saw [this job] in the Record-Chronicle,” Trower said. “I was nervous at first, but then the second interview I was told I was going to get the job. I specifically applied for the booth job because I wanted to help people.”
Her “office” consists of a file cabinet where Trower keeps her calendars and maps, a laptop and a couple of umbrellas, one of which she lets a music student borrow every time it’s raining. A small container filled with fresh green beans, a granola bar, a banana and few other treats sits in the booth to get her through the morning hours.
“Its my home away from home,” Trower said about UNT and what it means to her.
As the morning hours start to whisk by, the constant flow of cars and foot traffic increases. The only cars that stop by Trower’s booth are either people she knows or first timers at UNT asking for directions.
Either way, the constant motion of cars passing by the booth never stops, almost like a baggage carousel at a busy airport.
At the same time, Trower never stops.
When she’s not helping students, she goes up to the some of the ladies she has known personally for more than a few years and compliments them on their nails, scarves or other elements.
But her knack for remembering the names of every single dean, vice president or UNT board member who has passed through shows her history with UNT. She not only remembers their names, but their children’s and pet’s names.
“That’s Scott, he’s amazing,” Trower said.
The “Scott” she talks about is Scott Bullock, who is the monitor of quality control in kitchens across campus and was just making his way over to the Bruce Hall kitchen behind her booth.
After embracing Trower, he stops.
“It’s about time someone told her story,” Bullock said.
Soon after Scott passes, the carousel of cars continues and John Richman, the dean of the College of Music, pulls up and has a quick word with Trower.
“Isn’t she something,” he whispers on his way out with a smile on his face.
As she stands at her booth, Trower laughs.
“Yesterday he told me about a glass bottle broken over by the entrance of the music building,” she said. “I wasn’t going to call or wait on someone. I just picked up the glass with my gloves and broom and picked it right up.”
Soon after, she yells “good morning” to new passersby and goes about explaining the person’s life story as she does for almost everyone she knows.
Instead of going through work day-by-day, Trower tries to make the most out of every interaction.
“I don’t own a cell phone,” Trower said. “I’d rather give people my full attention and talk to them in person than always looking at my cell phone. It’s not for me.”
The phone in her booth rings constantly, but Trower does not have the chance to answer it.
“If the phone rings, and I’m helping someone, the phone will just have to wait,” Trower said. “I’m very passionate about helping people [and] it always comes back to that. It makes me happy.”
One of Trower’s co-workers, chemistry and Spanish junior Shelby Webster, said that she can expect a warm welcome from Trower every time she sees her. And while some people may brush the greeting off, Webster lets every interaction sink in.
“She knows everyone’s names, there’s probably a hundred spaces and she greets everyone no matter if they are rude or not,” Webster said.
Trower said that a mentality of welcoming and joy is what she lives by and tries to emulate in every particular aspect of her profession and life.
While some people just let day after day pass, Trower tries to make every day count. Although UNT is a large campus, Trower wants to make everyone feel like someone.
“[Someone once said] that I welcome everybody to UNT like they are coming over to my house,” Trower said. “I just like helping people, that’s the bottom line. Every single interaction matters.”
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