Saturday, July 07, 2012

Only and Except

What is wrong with this picture?

No, no no. I wasn't drunk and tilting the camera at a wild angle. The sign really is tilting that way. But no, that wasn't what I was thinking of. There's something much more deeply disturbing and odd and wrong about this picture.

What does the sign really mean?

I should explain that this sign is next to the area where we park our cars and trailers when we go sailing from Independence Park in Bristol, like I did last Thursday. Everyone knows it's a parking area for cars and boat trailers. The parking slots are extra long to accommodate a car with a trailer behind it. And it's just up from the boat ramp, perfectly convenient for parking your car and boat trailer after you've launched your boat.

So why does the top sign say PARKING FOR TRAILERS ONLY

"Only" means "without others or anything further; alone; solely; exclusively." So if you can park ONLY trailers there you shouldn't park cars there too. Actually there was one trailer parked by itself there on Thursday. It was the only one compliant with the top sign. Every other trailer had a car or truck attached to it. None of them were ONLY trailers.

Perhaps it means, "Cars without trailers are not allowed to park here. This area is only for cars with trailers." But it doesn't say that.

Then how are we to interpret the second sign?


So you can park here for 5 hours, I guess. But how do we interpret "except for boat trailers"?

"Except" means "with the exclusion of; excluding." So boat trailers are not allowed to park 5 hours. So does that mean that boat trailers can't park there at all? Or that the 5 hour rule does not apply to boat trailers and they can park there indefinitely? The sign is ambiguous. You could read it either way.

But taken in combination with the top sign we now have a totally confusing, contradictory sign. Apparently only trailers can park here. But some vehicles can park here for 5 hours but those vehicles are not boat trailers. So what are they?  The only logical conclusion is that the authorities want people to park some other kinds of trailers next to the boat ramp for 5 hours. Farm trailers? Flat bed trailers? Mobile homes?

Why do does this bother me so much?

Why do I get worked up about such trivial issues of grammar and logic and word meaning?

What is wrong with me?


Judith Krimski said...

Really, don't you have better things to do than ponder the ambiguity of boat trailer signs? You should be writing that rivet article. Get going!

Judith Krimski said...

I admit I found that sign a bit confusing too. The question for me is, where are these trailers that can park themselves? What do they carry? If they can park themselves are the really a car or truck or bus.....?

Baydog said...

I dunno. Why do this bother you so much?

Tillerman said...

I dunno. I guess I'm addicted to taking photos of signs with my iPhone.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

I think Tillerman needs to take to his tiller more and to his keyboard less....

O Docker said...

I can see how this would pose a problem for Laser sailors.

I'd guess there have been many afternoons when the whole fleet never got to launch at all, but stood in a knot in the parking lot, hotly debating which sign took precedence and which section of the parking code was the relevant one to cite. By now, endless legal actions must have been filed in Bristol Municicpal Court.

Someone must have pointed out that, since a trailer is defined as a conveyance requiring a towing vehicle behind which it is "trailed", that a "trailer" (the party of the first part) is functionally no longer a trailer unless attached to a towing vehicle (the party of the second part). Ergo, a sign addressing the parking of a "trailer" must also extend the same governances and restrictions to any and all associated towing vehicles.

I'm sure no Laser sailor will sleep soundly until the court makes an official pronouncement about this and the Bristol City Council issues revised parking regulations for the parking seasons 2013 - 2018.

Tillerman said...

Not all Laser sailors are like me. Some are even worse.

Tillerman said...

Judith - my rivet post is written in my mind. That's all that really counts. The rest is mere mechanics.

Doc - it's hard to write blog posts with a tiller. Or a rivet.

Tillerman said...

O Docker, for your benefit the relevant section of the Town of Bristol Municipal Ordinances reads....

Sec. 16-146. - Parking time limited in designated places.
Between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., unless specified otherwise, except Sundays and legal holidays, it shall be unlawful for the operator of any vehicle to park the same for any one consecutive period of time longer than specified, within or upon any of the following areas, districts or streets or parts thereof:..
(6) Five hours: Independence Park, except for boat trailers.

So that clears things up. The five hour limit applies to all vehicles except boat trailers. But the first sign says that only trailers can park there. So boat trailers can park there all day, and other trailers like horse boxes and mobile homes can park there for five hours. But cars can't park there at all.

So now I need a horse who likes looking at a view of the harbor for 4 hours and 59 minutes.

Mojo said...

To O'Docker's point, a ruling by the Bristol Municipal court to enforce the statute may draw an appeal by Laser sailors to the Supreme Court of RI. What can we expect? Based on very recent precedent established by another well known court, we can surmise that the municipal solicitor's argument to uphold based on the Commerce Clause, i.e., that Tillerman can be compelled to purchase a horse trailer so that he can park for five hours, will be rejected in a majority opinion as unconstitutional. It would then follow that the penalty (fine) that he would have to pay for parking his Laser trailer there could be fairly called a tax, not a penalty.

Yes, I'm afraid it may take an election (Bristol Town Council) to decide the ultimate fate of this signage.

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