The Edgartown Highway Department has opened the gravel portion of the parking lot at the ferry point. Skip Bettencourt may have been the first to make use of it. There are still a few details to take care of. Topsoil will be spread around the edges and grass planted. Perhaps you are wondering why the concrete tire bumpers seem to aimed the wrong way. Allow me to explain. In the past when you were looking for a parking space at the point you might pull into the unpaved section first. You would notice a few spaces available right away but figure that maybe there will be a spot closer to the ferry, or even one in the paved section, so you keep going. Usually it would turn out that the only empty spaces were the first ones that you just passed at the far end of the unpaved area. So, you would be presented with the problem of getting back to where you started without getting involved in the traffic milling around at the point. You could try sneaking out the IN of the paved part and loop back to the IN of the dirt or try backing up through the dirt section to where the spaces were available moments before but just as likely are now occupied. Any other vehicles experiencing your same dilemma would of course thwart your efforts.

Before I continue with my explanation I will take this opportunity to give my opinion of the true meaning of Murphy’s Law. There are many stories about the origin of Murphy’s Law. When you have a spare couple of hours try Googling it. The history of the law ranges all of the way from being a centuries-old crude criticism of the knack of the Irish to attract bad luck to the claim by a reputable source that it wasn’t actually Murphy who discovered the law but rather another guy who by coincidence had the same last name. All of it pretty much misses the point and dwells on the negative aspects of the law which does actually recognize the very real tendency for humans to screw up or to blame nature. If you allow the laws of physics to help you to get through a bad day you will be able to take comfort in the knowledge that you are not unlucky when bad things befall you. You just have unrealistic or incorrect expectations. For instance, the old adage that toast will land jam side down. It’s not a reflection on you other than perhaps that you are not paying sufficient attention to the task at hand. If toast doesn’t land jam side down, there wasn’t enough jam on it to start with.

My own conclusions regarding the decision-making abilities of humans come from half a century of observations of people operating boats. When one vessel has to cross paths with another vessel and must act to avoid collision there are usually several choices: change course to pass behind the other, slow or even stop to allow the other to go by, go into reverse to back up, or make a 180 degree turn to give both of you plenty of room, OR ( and this is the one they invariably pick ) goose the throttle, zoom in front of the other boat and in the process create waves a couple of feet high that wash over the bow. It’s just human nature to act only from your own perspective if you don’t have time to think.

I like to look at the more positive side of Murphy’s Law. One version of the story is that the modern-day Murphy was an aircraft procurement officer for the Navy. He tried to get Douglas and Grumman to design their planes to avoid errors in maintenance by repeatedly warning; “If an aircraft fitter on one of our carriers can re-install a serviced component wrongly, then one day he will.” The idea is to recognize what can go wrong and to design things so that they can’t be put together wrong.

Back to the parking lot. When you go down to the ferry point to park, enter the paved area as usual but poke your nose in just far enough to see if there are any open spaces on the pavement. If there don’t see any, turn to your right and enter the newly graveled section. Pull into the first open space that you come to. Pretty clever!

Send Chappy news to