The world is full of theories. We’ve got Einstein’s theory of relativity, Dalton’s atomic theory, quantum theory, there’s even a theory of everything. These theories help us understand our world. Probability theories help us gauge factors such as chance, expectation and variance. Why don’t we have a “theory of parking tickets?” After all, is there any phenomenon more full of chance, expectation or variance?

I’m an amateur theorist and spend car rides in the passenger seat coming up with my own versions. You may have heard of Murphy’s Law, but have you ever heard of Clark’s Law? It states that when two negatives are in conflict, both are true. For example, Alex and Xavier own a business. It soon goes bankrupt. Alex says the business failed because Xavier is a crook and embezzled. Xavier says the business failed because Alex is lazy and made mistakes. According to Clark’s Law, both are correct: The business failed because Xavier is a crook and Alex is lazy.

I’ve applied my genius to parking tickets for years and come up with a few propositions.

The probability of getting a parking ticket is directly the inverse of the brazenness and flagrancy of the parking offense committed.

How many times have you seen someone parked in a bike lane beside a coffee shop holding up rush hour traffic? How many times have you seen such a person get a ticket? My personal count is zero. Zero times. IT NEVER HAPPENS. I’ve field-tested this theory frequently. I have a weakness for the muffuletta sandwich made by San Remo Bakery in Toronto. It’s an enormously popular spot, and there is never any legal parking available. This does not deter me. When I have that muffuletta sandwich on my mind nothing will get in my way. I’ve committed dozens and dozens of egregious parking infractions. Never got a ticket. Always got my sandwich.

The higher the number of letters and symbols on a parking sign, the greater the chance of getting a ticket.

Imagine, for a moment, that instead of the Ten Commandments, Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying a parking sign from one of our major municipalities. You think the world is messed up now? Our societies would be based on cannibalism and soap carving. The average parking sign encountered by today’s motorists will have a green (you can park) or red (you can’t park) “P” followed by some random time periods. These periods will conflict with one another. For instance, a parking sign will read: you may park between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., but you may not park between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. Montreal has orangish-yellow signs for snow removal (because, well, Montreal). Note: Parking in Montreal is so complicated there are entire websites dedicated to deciphering it.

The probability of getting a parking ticket increases exponentially by the number of parking signs present.

Finding a single solitary parking sign is like finding a four-leaf clover, only less common. Parking signs come is packs, like rats. Three is a standard number. One sign will state that it’s entirely legal to park on specific dates. You may park without fear of reprisal between days 1 to 15 of every month except November, or on St. Sebastian’s Day. The second sign will state that parking is prohibited on pain of death and make reference to which side of the street you may not park on. These two will be accompanied by a third parking sign that is simply a monolithic symbol – for instance, a large green “P.” Now it’s the driver’s turn to spin the parking sign roulette wheel. Just like in the casino, the house almost always wins.

The probability of getting a parking ticket is directly the inverse of the effort and diligence used to avoid committing a parking offense.

Every parking ticket I have ever received has been the result of me striving to park legally. Each time, I have left my car convinced I was following the parking edicts. I’ve scrupulously studied the signs, held a mini Malta Conference with my associates, determined that I do not need to buy a parking pass on my app and that, in fact, it is legal to park here between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. between the 16th and 31st of each month, including any blood moons which may occur. Almost every time, I have returned to find a yellow love letter from parking enforcement telling me how wrong I was.

It may be best to simplify parking signage. They have done so in Los Angeles, making it more visual and less verbal. Maybe we should just go with one sign that could rule over it all. Dante did a pretty good job handling parking in thirteenth-century Florence: “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate.”

We could just use that: “All hope abandon ye who enter here.”

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