The Sandra Theory


The Sandra Theory

Sandra Smith told me about one of her theories. That is, we shouldn’t just continue to do things to try to correct a problem with fines and the like, we should get to the root cause of the problem and do something about it. They had a problem in the ski resort of Whistler. They issue citations for drinking in public (on the sidewalks, this is not New Orleans.) Most of the tickets are written to young people 18-15 (no surprise there.) Sandra thought that this was an issue that needed addressing so she sat out to research it.

She found that most of these young people worked at the ski resort, lived in dormitory style buildings and needed a way to meet others (of the opposite sex) and to let off steam. She maneuvered some funds (actually coming from the citations for public drinking) and began a program of recreational activities for this age group. I know it sounds lame but give me a minute.

The programs included free movies in the evening, scavenger hunts on snow shoes (with great prizes), A Rocky Horror Picture show event, and the like. The first event drew six people. However with funding supplied by the citations and perseverance, her events now regularly draw two to three hundred people. Strangely enough, the number of citations for public drinking has dropped of substantially and the local young people seem much happier.

By the way, Sandra is no goodie two shoes…I have seen her enjoy a great single malt or even two. But she saw the problem and corrected it, seeing that citations did little to stop the behavior.

Ah to parking…

We kicked it around a bit and she felt that people don’t pay parking tickets (the habitual scofflaws) and hate to pay for parking because they feel that the money is going simply into the general fund and they feel that it’s being wasted, read that stolen, by the city.

What would happen, she posits, if the money were to go to something tangible that people could see, touch, and be proud of. (It’s her latent Shoupista showing through. Don claims that when money is collected for parking it has to be used for something people can feel, not simply used for an offramp 40 miles away.)

Consider what would happen in the parking business if people knew that when they paid a citation, the money went to a new park, or new streets, or, says Sandra, better yet the children’s ward at the hospital. What a great PR scheme, not to mention good works, to have a child standing next to parking meter thanking a driver for the money for his or her chemo. It doesn’t get any better than that.

People would look on parking fees, and citations, from an entirely different viewpoint. When you park you are doing something positive for society. I can see it now, citizens going up to a driver that walked away from a parking meter without paying and saying “Hey, Fellow, did you forget to pay. There are kids in the hospital that need that money.” People would pay their fines and actually feel good about it. And what politician is going to be against this idea – money for kids, new parks, is really bomb proof.

Hmmm Sandra may have an idea, and from her new position she may be able to flesh it out and lead the pack. Canadians have a reputation, not unearned, for being “nice.” Maybe this one, in her native niceness, has come up with a winning idea.


John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. I agree with her. But with all theories there is no absolute. Sometime parking is in fact a revenue generator for the city to provide services to a population. Considering how most feel about taxes.
    Going on her theory though, perhaps there is a lesson for parking scofflaws in the same spirit as public intoxication. Sometimes the signage allowed for parking restrictions in a public environment pales to that of a private one. I know many a city I have been that does not adequately explain limits and the like.
    Sometimes you can also attribute it to payment methods as well. I could write an essay on that part, so I won’t.
    But to support the Sandra Theory, sometimes it feels that corporations, Banks organizations, schools, muni’s, and every one else related to business like the idea of the “Gotcha” policy. A great example would be the RIAA and how they handled the changing of technology and its effect on the old business model. Or banks and their reliance on Overdrafts and other fines within it. Even the seed business, read as Monsanto, and how they view their customer base. It is all related, and very troubling. In the sense that it is long term nightmare to a business model. When you are prosecuting your customer base with oppressive means, that oppression over time has a very negative effect on the overall business model. Those responsible don’t care because they are in it for the short term. This quarter, this fiscal year, etc.
    Sustaining these policies even for the long term as an investor, or heck even an officer of the company is not important. In essence I think we are setting little time bombs set to go off in the future. Those who set them in motion don’t care or don’t understand that the abuse inflicted seriously alters our opinions of that organization and their future support.
    So even if the Sandra theory on things were completely accurate, she did not apply the exact lesson learned from the public drinking. That these people are not criminal, but normal humans needing a place to socialize. In the case of parkers, why are they not paying the parking? fix it, as they did with the youth. Customers main avenue of communication is non verbal and in the case of overall customer habits they are perhaps an organizations chance to recognize change now and on the horizon.

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