The famous Stanford marshmallow experiment of 1972 dealt with delayed gratification. Basically, kids were offered two options… a treat right now, or wait a bit… and get double the treats. Note that the average age of the participants was around 4½… the idea being to figure out if something so simple as this version of “seeing the bigger picture” might be a useful predictor of future outcomes for these kids.
What they found was that those who were patient and would wait it out… turned out to have better outcomes… as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment and other measures. It stands to reason, at the most basic level. If you can’t see more than a move ahead, life looks a lot different. Indeed, consider a chess game where the opponent can’t think much past what they’re about to do. They move a piece, you take it. They move another piece, you take it. Jeez, this game is hard… and life, like chess, looks a lot different if you don’t consider that big picture. And while those kids were 4½, you see this thought-process in adults all the time.
I’ve talked about parking before, so let’s talk about it again for a moment. Back in the day, if you didn’t mind walking a few blocks, parking for the racetrack was a lot cheaper if you parked in some person’s driveway. You know the crowd, if you’ve ever approached the PNE from the residential side; the people all yelling “Parking! Parking!”, trying to hustle you into their driveways or garage for $10 or $8 or $5 or whatever.
There used to be this Italian guy… with a convenient driveway, very close to Renfrew St. Two bucks to park, and we parked there frequently. This was from April to late August, a few times a week.
Then… the actual PNE fair rolled around, and things got busier… and when we went to park, he’d jacked his prices… from $2 to $10. Hey buddy, it’s us. Nope, $10. Are you kidding? We’re your best customers! Nope, $10. OK, you know what… if you don’t let us park here for $2, we will never park here again.
The simple math… he’d make up that amount in less than two weeks of us parking in the future, plus the entire future ahead of that. Nope, $10 or forget it. OK dude, forget it.
And we never parked there again. What we did too, incessantly, is drive by his place slowly as if we were going to park, then wave at him and park somewhere else. Eventually we got tired of mocking him, or perhaps we got tired of his rude gestures towards us. A bit of both.
Hey, it’s summer! And I should be free to enjoy it as I like! Masks, social distancing, whatever, who cares! Live for the moment; the future, why worry… what’ll happen will happen and we’ll figure it out eventually. Que será, será.
Well, that’s how some people think. The same people who as kids, snagged the candy now instead of waiting a bit for twice as much.
It’s not just this summer. It’s next summer too. And the decades beyond that. Short-term pain, long-term gain.
It’s pretty obvious to some people, but what’s also pretty obvious is that some people are incapable of considering things on those terms. That’s what comes to mind as I see these numbers creep up. Let's get it together, people. There's no free parking.