Just like Larry Ellison

Larry and I share a sense of entitlement.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I am just like Larry Ellison. Well, to be more precise, I’m just as bad as Larry Ellison. Last Friday I stopped at Farley’s to get a cup of coffee before coming into work. Even though there were parking spots open on the opposite side of the street, I decided just to double park in the direction I was headed. I had done this many times before and thought that I would be fine for the few minutes it takes to get coffee: my hazard lights were on after all. Low and behold, as I walked out with my delicious cup of coffee, a police officer was writing a ticket. I verified that he was ticketing my car and accepted the ticket graciously when he handed it over, despite his pompous attitude.

So, how does this make me just like Larry Ellison? Larry Ellison has been known to land his private jet at the San Jose airport after the curfew designed to keep noisy planes from disturbing the local residents at night. Larry has the reputation of thinking he is a deity, and he therefore believes laws like this curfew don’t apply to him. What’s more, a $2500 fine is a drop in the bucket for a man worth $20 billion or so. As it turns out, Larry has so much bravado that he decided to sue the city of San Jose over the curfew law, and subsequently he was granted immunity to land his jet (see question #11 of the curfew FAQ) and the law was changed.

Now, consider my situation: I decided, despite knowing that it was illegal, to double park my car outside the coffee shop. I felt, much like Larry does, that I am entitled to do what I want. As it turns out, I was penalized for it, but $50 is not that big of a deal to me. Sure, I don’t want to pay a $50 ticket every time I get coffee, but you can look at the fine in one of two ways: either that cup of coffee cost me $51.45, or amortized over the countless other times I have double parked to buy coffee, they have each cost me about $2.00. From the second perspective, a fine for double parking once every 50 or so coffee trips is an acceptable risk to take.

I don’t plan on fighting the ticket like Larry fought the law, but I might think twice about double parking the next time I stop for coffee.