Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Driving Mr.Johnson - The curious case of the Parking Problem

Note: An online extract of an opinion piece, by an Expert Columnist, that appeared in the middle page of Aug 22nd issue of Kabali Times.

"I just don't know how you walk around with those things" - Elaine in Seinfeld
Nettaiyan, when he was 14, comprehended thus. Mr.Johnson was not an easy vehicle to drive around. Finding the right parking spot was not just a chore but an art form. You see, growing up, for men like Nettaiyan, was never an easy affair. For the first 5-8 years his wardrobe choice was usually not made by a man but by women who could barely comprehend what Mr.Johnson was all about. Women did not own automobiles. They did not know what was it like to own one. On this topic Mr. Gendelffson, CEO of Johnson & Johnson remarked, "it is easy to play for a few hours with someone else's scooter but owning your own vehicle is a different proposition. And we understand that problem, which why we are here to help". But all they came up with is baby powder which really did not address the problem for Nettaiyan. Friends were helpful, but not logical. "Park on the left man", said Kuppan. "Always park on the left. Its discreet, safe and Mr. Johnson likes it that way". But Nettaiyan asked "why left?". Nettaiyan was confused by the lack of logic. Left and right are the same thing? But why did it make a difference? It worried him no end. Now that he thought about it, he couldn't get it off his mind.

When he was a small boy in diapers - he did not have to worry about the parking problem. oh! what wonderful times they were. He was a baby. Other people parked his vehicle. Plus babies don't care. When he grew up to the age where he suddenly woke up and realized he owned an automobile (which literally was mobile and automatic) he also realized that he had to park it daily. It would be embarrassing for a grown person to ask somebody to park vehicles for him. Parking it in the morning before he went to school, was his biggest problem. Its rush hour, you have to dress up fast and rush to school. Not an easy thing to work on left/right aesthetics. Initially he wouldn't care and just park wherever he pleased and left to school. But the mind is so freaking paranoid. He would think, Is it parked right? Is it discreet? What if Mr.Johnson wasn't parked like others and was jutting out on the road. Would he be ticketed? Are people secretly laughing at him? Was something abnormal about Mr.Johnson? Thoughts such as these would drive the poor boy mad.

It is common knowledge that discussing automobile issues is common among men. For many years that's all they talk about - cars bikes and Johnson. Oiling, covers, rain protection, shrinkage, garage. They would ask among themselves - Did you drive it to this garage? Is this parking lot better than that parking lot? Which car wash is better? Is parking in a parking lot in movie theaters safe? What about hotels, restaurants? The topics of discussion was endless. Although Nettaiyan intuitively understood why parking on the left was preferred, he could see there was no logical difference. Why would left be better than right? But whenever he tried the right hand side of the road, Mr.Johnson would be appalled by the right-side parking. It was like leaving Johnson naked. No protection. It seemed like the society was forcing him to park left. Over time when Nettaiyan stopped becoming tall and his shoes and dresses began to fit him perfectly, he did not have to worry about outgrowing his shirt size. It was not about size but style. He bought Gucci shirts and Armani suits. He was rich and constant. He never worried about Mr.Johnson again. Occasionally when Mr.Johnson slipped into auto gear, for reasons from massage to Salma Hayek, Nettaiyan would wonder "why is left better than right" now? He is 40 and he never had the time to pause and think what the answer might be?

- Kabali Times Copyright

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