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Filed Under , on October 17th, 2015

Boxed Magic

By Seth Kabala

Since moving to Portland, OR in August, we’ve been trying out several new stores for grocery shopping. Sam’s Club doesn’t exist in Portland. No results within 100 miles of our zip code. (Probably too many Walmart execs left their engines idling while the draw-bridge to City Center was up and were subsequently blackballed.) So we went to Costco. I don’t know if the store has always been the same size or if corporate expanded it over the years, but the store dwarfs the parking lot, or at least this was my impression upon first arriving.

With people and cars pressed against each other like cheese to the meat in a Philly, oxygen was in short supply, so I added a trip to the medical supply store to our itinerary. Even if my initial impressions of size were incorrect, an estimated 200,000 people are projected to move to Portland over the next two decades, per Mayor Hales. At that point, a secondary breathing apparatus will be factored into the price of a membership. So how do you solve this parking lot dilemma?

Counter conceptual to the skinny house that is so popular here in Portland, a mythological fat house is one room in depth and 18 rooms wide. You run into awkward situations with needing to go through the bathroom and everyone else’s bedrooms before getting to the kitchen, but just consider this to be training to become a good public speaker, conditioning your nerves from all manner of unpleasant and unexpected moments that may happen whilst you’re on the throne, er, behind the lectern. 

In a fat house, the driveway’s width is inversely proportionate to the house’s width. The wider the house, the skinnier the driveway. When you get the primo deluxe fat house, you’re only allowed 12″ of space for your driveway. Why 12″? T.I.P. (this is Portland). How, then, you might ask, do you park a vehicle in a driveway that is 12″ wide? Easy. You employ The Night Bus’ squeezing spell from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. 

My son, 9, and two daughters, 8 and 4, have gotten into the Harry Potter series, books and movies. In addition to supplying daily nostalgia from my own experience with the series, it has provided a frame of reference to explain the solution to the driveway inversion problem. One quick wave of the wand, and your six-feet-wide gas guzzler becomes exactly 12″ in width. Hilarious Side-Effect Alert: a good chance exists that you will emerge from this spell looking like Mike Teavee upon his emergence from the taffy puller. Just a little adventure in 2D. No biggie. However, one moment under a handy-dandy ACME anvil will have you back to normal proportions. Probably. 

I’m convinced the Costco parking lot is the original installation of the fat house. As such, it has the Portland-mandated inverse width requirement on driveway and (since this is covered in the commercial side of the code language) parking lot space. All the problems with traffic backups associated with getting wedged into the driveway and subsequently extruded into the parking lot, only to be vacuum-sealed into a parking space could be eliminated by speaking some mumbo-jumbo and waving a stick. 

Harry Potter purists will castigate me for stating you could cast this magic using just a wand and incantation, without The Knight Bus’ magical assist. 

But, hey, if gas can see two-dollars per gallon, and 1.5 lbs of pepperoni snack sticks are, like, ten-bucks, anything is possible.

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Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, musician, family man, and juggler of balls--big ones. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

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