Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Monday, February 6, 2012

Playing the Percentages

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.

14 comments:

  1. It says people are lazy!
    I always park far away where no one is likely to ding my car. Hey, I don't want a dent on my baby!

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    1. If your car is your baby, I'm pretty sure that entitles you to use the Customer with Child spots. You'll never need to walk all the way across the parking lot again!

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  2. Staggering math skillz, my friend. I love the extrapolation. You ARE the 1%. Hell, you're the 0.1%!

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    1. No, I'm not the 0.1%. I think you're confusing me with my blood-alcohol level while I was extrapolating.

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  3. Nate, you are nothing if not an analytical genius. In the news...isn't the 1% what the masses are fighting against??? Just saying, I'm confused is all.

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    1. Yeah, on Wall Street they're rallying against the 1%, but the roles are reversed at Wal*Mart and Walgreens. There, the 99% are the greedy ones.

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  4. To me, those designated spots in close proximity to the cart areas are more for safety than convenience. I won't leave my kids alone in the car while I return the cart unless it's right next to my car. So, good thing I wasn't there or those lazy a-holes might come back to a keyed car. And yeah, it was my lazy butt that left my empty cart in the middle of the last available parking space. Oops *shrug*

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    1. You weren't being unsafe; you were being considerate. Only arrogant bastards complain when their new parking spot comes complete with a complimentary shopping cart.

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  5. Nice to meet you. Good luck with A-Z. I look forward to your posts.

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    1. It's nice to meet you, too, Mr. Squid. And best of luck on the A to Z.

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  6. Replies
    1. Thanks, man. I try. (And as luck would have it, sometimes I even succeed!)

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  7. LOL! Fantastic analysis. I, too, engage in the social experiment known as people-watching from time to time. The results can be quite illuminating. Great way of identifying your placement in the coveted-but-scorned 1%! Well, in your case, I'll dispel the "scorned" part and simply say, coveted.

    Job well-done, Sir :)

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    1. Ooh, you said Sir. With a capital S. I'm pretty sure that means I've been knighted, which means I truly am in the coveted 1%. Now, to get me a round table.

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