Namaste. You Must Pay.

Did you hear about the “Yoga Parking Tickets” they’re giving out in Cambridge, Massachusetts?

NPR did a story about it last week called, City’s Parking Tickets Tell Drivers to Strike a Yoga Pose, but I think when violators see these tickets, a lot of them will strike another pose entirely.

With the noblest of intentions, the Cambridge Arts Council has printed drawings of yoga poses on the envelopes of the city’s parking tickets. The idea, according to the CAC’s Lillian Hsu, is to “invite us to change our perceptive of this fairly complicated and rich world of the Traffic and Parking Department and all of its staff and its different roles and the public.”

Say what?

It sounds like Ms. Hsu needs to take a long, slow breath.

What I think she’s saying is that the city is trying to soften the image of the Traffic and Parking Department.

The implication is that, by looking at drawings of people doing yoga, ticket recipients will feel more peaceful about what’s inside the envelope.

But that makes about as much sense as thumbing through a Runner’s World magazine and then expecting firmer glutes to result. You have to actually do the yoga to benefit from it.

So maybe that’s it.

Maybe they expect the violator to take the ticket and begin a home practice with it. After all, one might as well get his money’s worth, right?

Or, perhaps it’s just meant to be confusing enough to make one pause curiously, so the officer has enough time to make a clean getaway. Now that makes sense.

Unfortunately, it’s too soon to tell if the plan is working, but some outspoken residents are already expressing their displeasure, as reported in the Boston Herald.

Here’s my theory:

If you’ve ever made the mistake of telling someone who is hysterical to “relax” you’ll know it serves no purpose other than to further inflame his or her passion.

As if to say, “Don’t tell me to relax,” they will continue to be hysterical, probably longer than they might have if you’d said nothing at all.

The city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, obviously doesn’t realize this.

So, for the benefit of our readers in New England, The Yoga of Living will offer the City of Cambridge and its Arts Council some humble suggestions:

The drawings are nice. Please put them up in bus shelters and in the ad spaces on buses themselves; Inside subway cars would be good also.

These places will be where people are going to look at them passively. Some will think, Huh, maybe I’ll take a yoga class, and others will unconsciously just breathe a little more deeply. This will have been their choice.

Later, when they see a parking ticket on their windshield, those same people will already have a few tools to help them handle the moment when it arises.

And if you insist on modifying the parking ticket itself, a personal note would be just lovely. Something like,

Dear ________________ ,

We’re sorry about this parking ticket. We’ve gotten them ourselves, and we hate them, too.

If it’s any consolation, we’ll try to use your hard-earned money for something important like patching potholes or providing well-lit crosswalks for the elderly. Thanks for your understanding.

Here’s hoping the rest of your day is better.

Your Friends at the Traffic and Parking Department.


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4 Responses to Namaste. You Must Pay.

  1. WOW – This is so weird. What a strange, strange idea from the CAC. Also, thinking about simply bureaucracy in general, a lot of different people had to approve not only this idea, but likely every design. This was probably a months-long-expensive process to implement.

    I like your idea so much more – a sweet, empathetic, note. But especially the idea of putting them up as ad spaces.

    • Dasi says:

      Yeah, it is weird. You’re right about the expense being a big issue, also.
      Since parking tickets are technically municipal property, I think that puts them in the same catagory as a public space…Public art and controversy!

      Thanks, Megan, for your thoughts.

  2. Kaleena says:

    I love your idea. Put yoga poses in places that can often be stressful, but allows you to be contemplative at the same time. What the hell is going on in Mass?

    “Here’s a ticket. Namaste.”

    I haven’t heard of anything that insulting since the commercial tagline, “Have a Happy Period”. No, no thank you.

    • Dasi says:

      Thank you, Kaleena. It’s always a pleasure.
      Woo, that tag line… Hadn’t heard that one. I think we have a winner!

      P.S: You inspired me to change the title of this post.

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