When Google Fails

Sometimes the answers are right there. I know I’m hyper-inquisitive, but it isn’t always rocket science. I get a puzzled/irked feeling when I see someone post, “Who is Nick Park?” in response to someone’s status update. If you’d typed it into Google, silly Gromit, you’d know sooner and I wouldn’t make fun of you. Bless your heart.

A woman I used to know called me her “personal Google.” I always wanted to respond, “No, Google is your personal Google. You’re just too lazy or confused to use it, so I look things up for you instead of listening to the same questions eight times.” Bless your heart.

My curiosity kicks into high gear sometimes and it’s important to come up with answers. Take, for example, this sign outside Alison’s building:

So, the sign is in furtherance of research on signs, or the result of it? I read it about eight times, slowly. I finally tried parsing it out. DDOT … has a research program … on signs. In other words: This is a sign. Tawk amongst yourselves.

I’m not the first to notice this. I pointed the sign out to Alison on our walk to work this morning. She conjectured: the other side of the street has helpful signage, instead of one jumbled mass of instructions that causes people to crash their cars before they even have a chance to park legally. I’m not sure, but that seems like a traffic and multitasking research program. But Alison says that there used to be helpful signs on this side of the road, too. Her theory is that they took them away to see whether people could still figure out how to park without DDOT being generally obliged to improve the city’s signs.

Signs like these have cost me a lot of money, but at least I see it coming.

This dovetails with another theory by Alison, to wit: that the District recruits parking officers outside the divorce court. Every time they find someone who’s extra obstreperous, they pin a badge on her and send her out to chip away at people’s sanity, $50 at a time. So, through the Demonstration Program on Signage, the District is proving that not only are their meter maids raging bitches, but their planning overlords are raging assholes, too. Which kind of makes sense, because there has to be someone that even parking enforcement is afraid of.

Alison can correct me if I’m misunderstanding her theory somehow, but for now I like it. And the point is, she has answers when the Internet lets me down. Later in our walk this morning, I pointed out another one that’s had me scratching my head since I started working at Thomas Circle. What is this deer doing howling at the moon?

Alison, very matter-of-factly: “I’m surprised you don’t know. It’s a coyote deer.”

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