Last week, I conducted a social experiment involving the observation of societal norms in a closed setting. Which is to say, I sat in my car and people-watched.
On the way home from lunch with some friends, we had stopped at a grocery store and pulled into one of the spots reserved for Customer with Child. Perhaps you've seen these; the designated spots are relatively close to the building, and meant as a convenience for parents who need to lug a baby in a car seat over to the shopping carts, or who have to corral small children into the store. In our case, The Professor had just fallen asleep, so rather than disturb him, I stayed in the car with him while Denise went inside to pick up the few items we needed.
Over the next 15 minutes, I observed the comings and goings in the other Customer with Child Parking spots nearby, and what I discovered was startling: Of all the other customers who used these spots, not one had a child with them.
Let's do the math. (Okay, I'll do the math. You sit back and watch.) Six different cars filled those other spots during that 15-minute span. With ours as the lone car with a child, that means only 1 in 7 was using the spot as intended.1 Of course, this is just a small sample size, which doesn't really tell us much. But let's say I'd continued observing from that spot for four hours. If I extrapolate the numbers, that means only 1 of every 97 people would have used the spots appropriately.2
Use of Customer with Child spots isn't enforced like it is with handicapped spots, so of course you'd expect a few people to take advantage of the system. But the numbers don't lie: As my pseudo-scientific experiment proves, a stunning 99% of people are motivated by selfishness and greed, and care not for the plight of young mothers and fathers struggling to carry such a heavy burden.3
And there you have it. I don't know what this says about our society as a whole, but I know what it says about me.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am the 1%.
1 Never mind that we weren't actually using the spot as intended. We'd intended to. Oh, never mind.
2 What, you don't trust my math? Every 15 minutes, another 6 childless customers would roll into those spots, for a total of 96. Plus me, sitting there the entire time. Thus, 1 out of 97. So there. You extrapolate your way, I'll extrapolate mine.
3 Okay, so the numbers might not lie, but I might be stretching them a bit. It's not 99% of everyone; it's just 99% of those who use the Customer with Child spots. But considering none of those spots was vacant for more than 30 seconds, I'm still talking about a far higher percentage of the overall population than you might think.