Saturday, July 26, 2014

Still Life With Robin: Parking Puzzle Report (or Re-Report)

Photo by Arpingstone via Wikimedia Commons
by Peggy Robin

Today’s column is more or less plagiarized from John Kelly’s Washington Post column of July 23. I am rationalizing this otherwise brazen act with the following justifications: 1. Reprinting someone else’s work is fine as long as you give proper credit (and had Senator John Walsh of Montana realized this, his master’s degree would not now be in jeopardy); 2. The idea presented in John Kelly’s column is so delightfully ingenious that it deserves to be repeated all over the place; and 3. This is a quintessentially Cleveland Park/Woodley Park/residential parking tale – and therefore it speaks to the heart of what the Cleveland Park Listserv is about – so ir really belongs here. With these three justifications, therefore, let me proceed to reproduce John Kelly’s account, virtually wholesale. My own original contribution is to have removed the paragraph breaks, which in the Washington Post column, were inserted after every sentence or every other sentence – so that my version takes up much less space on your computer screen:

On Friday night, Kevin Thorn and a female friend were hunting for a parking space near her apartment. Kevin’s friend lives near the National Zoo. No spots were to be found on Connecticut Avenue. Side streets were bumper to bumper, too. Behind her building, on Hawthorne Street, is a mix of angled and parallel parking. A parallel spot was open, but it was too small for Kevin’s 16-foot-long Mustang. “After circling three times, my friend had a stroke of genius,” wrote Kevin. “She saw a Car2Go car parked in an angled spot.” The car-sharing service Car2Go uses Smart Cars, which are 8.8 feet long. Kevin’s friend promptly rented the Car2Go and backed it out of the spot. Kevin parked the Mustang there. Then the couple drove the Car2Go about 100 yards to the small parallel spot. The diminutive vehicle fit nicely. It costs 41 cents a minute to rent a Smart Car from Car2Go. Wrote Kevin: “Total cost $3.84, which was well worth it to play parking Tetris and create a parking spot out of thin air!”

Let me add a conclusion of my own: If we assume Kevin parked for 12 hours overnight without additional cost, that works out to 32 cents a minute -- much better than a $40 ticket.  Brilliant!

Now having retold this story and having excused myself for borrowing someone else’s work, I thought I’d pass along an original recommendation. I’ve just finished a thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking book about lying – how often we do it, how we rationalize it, what makes us lie more and what makes us lie less. It’s The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone--Especially Ourselves, by Dan Ariely. The author is a professor psychology at Duke University, who set up a series of experiments giving subjects the opportunity to cheat (on tests, in making change, in accomplishing various tasks) who then varied the conditions in each to see if people would cheat more or less. One of his experiments results in a 90 percent cheating rate! Let me add that I have absolutely no connection to the author or his book; I didn’t even use my own Amazon portal to get a kickback if you buy it – honest!


Still Life With Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

No comments:

Post a Comment