The other day I get this shrill alarm sounding on my headphones, and the screen of my phone lit up with the message that “based on my sound history” I had exceeded the recommended volume recommendations for the past week, and advised that I back off the headphones for a bit.
Those of you who know me will understand how I reacted: I shook my head, chuckled sheepishly and turned down the volume in accordance with their advice.
Actually that’s not completely true. Rather, I flew into a psychotic rage and vowed that every e-nanny warning must die.
Most of my life is spent shouting at inanimate objects, so I felt compelled to tell the phone not to worry about my sound history, because if I could hear, I wouldn’t have had the volume up so loud in the first place.
Before you laugh, I have won these battles before. I clicked so obsessively on a “report this ad” link on the Washington Post website that I am no longer tormented by intrusive ads across the bottom of the screen.
This is why, today, I tip my hat in respect to Gareth Wild, ”a 39-year-old production director who assiduously took up space, in one spot after another at the local Sainsbury’s of his London suburb, until he had used 211 parking spots over six years,” the New York Times reported.
Now that’s an obsession to be proud of. And it proves that if you do something kind of stupid and sort of pointless no one will care — but there exists a line of banality that, if crossed, will turn you from weirdo to celebrity, even in the eyes of America’s Newspaper of Record.
“If you do anything small, or a little thing over a long period of time, it doesn’t feel like too much,” Wild told the Times. “Then you put it together and suddenly you’re being interviewed by people for your car parking exploits.”
Remember that kids. Stupidity is cumulative. You do it enough and a diamond is created out of coal.
First, Wild plotted out the parking lot on Google Earth. Then he created a spreadsheet, and every week when he went to the grocery he looked for a spot he hadn’t parked in before. He divided the lot into lettered and numbered color-coded sections. “I quickly identified the ones that were in high demand,” he said, and planned to seek those out first. “The ones that were never being used, I wanted to save those for last so I wasn’t bottlenecking my approach.”
Well obviously. If you want to get a project of this urgency wrapped up in a tidy 72 months you can’t be wasting your time in a bottleneck.
And a minor quibble perhaps — you can do it Wild’s way, but that’s not the cowboy way. Most guys I know are entirely capable of doing something this pointless, but they would have added a speed element.
And I’m guessing they will. It’s just the way guys think (or more accurately, the way they don’t think). Not that 211 has been done, it’s going to be “Who's the fastest to 211?” It would involve endless orbits of the lot, waiting for the needed space to come open. And, in a perfect world, it would somehow involve explosives.
I do give Wild credit for this: He chose to start a family because he needed access to the space reserved for shoppers with small children. You wonder how that conversation went.
Wife: Darling, I’ve been giving much thought to procreation, and while I hesitate to bring new life into a world so fraught, I do believe that humanity is a vessel through which each new soul is deserving of a chance to mold the societal clay. What do you think?
Husband: Well, it would help me get the family space down at Sainsbury’s.
Move over Bill and Melinda Gates.