mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Why it's rational to park near the gym....q

I've been reading Greg Easterbrook's The Progress Paradox lately. It's a very interesting book about why Americans are doing better than ever before in history, yet are still unhappy - which pretty much describes my life. I'll probably blog about it in the future when I finish the book, but there was one throwaway line that got me thinking. He's talking about how Americans are out of shape, and that we have gotten so opposed to physical activity that we "drive from one side of the mall to the other" rather than walk. I've found myself doing that - as well as circling the gym parking lot looking for a good space - and every now and then have contemplated the absurdity of it. But when I think about it some more, I think it's entirely rational.

Now, when I go shopping, I do sometimes park far away from the store on purpose - partly for the exercise, and partly because I suck at parking and have a bad habit of hitting stuff with my truck, so I try to stay away from other cars. But lots of times, I find myself looking for a good parking spot - even on a day when I'll drive to the gym and "walk" 8 miles or so on the Precor or elliptical machines. Why?

1.Parking Lots are outside - this is self-evident, but the problem with the outdoors is that, well, they aren't enclosed - which means they are subject to things like rain, snow, cold, heat, and other unpleasantries that I would prefer to avoid. The gym, on the other hand, is enclosed, climate controlled, and filled with cute girls in shorts.

2.Parking lots are full of cars - once again, clearly obvious. The modern parking lot does a great job of accommodating a large number of cars. It does this by putting as many spots as possible next to each other, with no room for pedestrian walkways. That means if I park far away, I've got to walk through that many more rows of cars pulling in and backing out, and thus increasing the risk that some soccer mom misses me while backing up her Yukon and turns me into a madanthony pancake. The closer I park, the less time I need to spend in the demolition derby that is the parking lot.

3.Going shopping means buying stuff... and carrying it - if I'm going to a store, it's usually because I need to purchase one or more things (OK, sometimes I do go just to kill time, or to see if anything good is on sale). I don't want to have to lug 35 pounds of kitty liter and 4 cases of soda to the far reaches of the Target parking lot. And yes, they have carts, but it can still be a pain to push a fully loaded cart, and the far reaches of the parking lot are usually devoid of cart returns, meaning another trip through the cold, wet, deadly parking lot.

4.People are often time-crunched - lots of times when I go to the store, I need to be somewhere afterwords, often at a certain time, or have other things I need to get done. Parking in west bumblefark means I'll be late, or I won't get the rest of the stuff I need to get done. I schedule time to go to the gym, I don't usually have time in my schedule to walk around a parking lot.

So the next time I find myself circling the Target parking lot, I'll feel OK that I'm still acting rationally.


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