Sunday, February 17, 2008

Filling Empty Space

I was in the Giant parking lot tonight, on my way to buy some frozen Mojito mix, and I saw yet another car in which all of the seats except the driver's were completely covered with newspapers, books, and other odds and ends (i.e., they were filled all the way up to the bottom of the windows). Whenever I see such cars, which happens fairly regularly, I always immediately have two thoughts: (i) god, that's depressing, and (ii) I really wish I had a picture of that (but whenever I've tried to take a picture of one of them, it never really captures what in the inside of the car looks like). I've always assumed that what leads to such a situation is an out-of-control hoarding impulse, but tonight I thought of an additional motivation. One of the effects of filling the seats of the car up in this manner is that it doesn't leave any room for anyone else to ride in the car. Of course, you might think this doesn't matter, because it seems fairly obvious that the owners of such cars probably don't have many friends. While this is probably true, just focusing on it doesn't really capture the way in which filling up the empty seats of one's car in this manner is consoling to someone who doesn't have many friends: it not only fills up the empty space that they're constantly surrounded by, it also eliminates the possibility of this space being filled by anyone else. I take the thought to be something like, "It doesn't matter that no one ever rides with me, because there's no room for them anyway". And that's a consoling thought.

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