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2:39pm on Friday, 15th September, 2006:

Seat of Learning


I renewed my parking card for another year today. While in the office, I took the opportunity to ask how come I still have to pay to park my vehicle when formally parking is free. I was told that parking was free, but registering me vehicle for permission to park still cost 0.15% of my salary.

So that's alright then.

The revalidation of my parking card seemed to come in four stages:

  1. Record how many units the card has on it.
  2. Wipe the card.
  3. Rewrite the card.
  4. Put back how much money I'd spent on the old card.

The observant among you will have noticed that although the old-format card recorded value in units, the new-format one records it in money. I think that's how it worked, anyway. Whatever, the people at the help desk of the Estates Department needed to convert the units into money.

Each unit is worth 5p, and I had 18 units. How much does that come to?

I watched with mounting dismay as the help desk operator asked for a calculator and her boss looked around to find one rather than raging "How simple does a calculation have to be before you don't need a calculator?!"

I queried as to whether they really did just want to know what 5 times 18 was, and they said yes, so I told them 90. They were impressed.

Not impressed enough to believe me, though: the help desk woman brought up Windows calculator. "You're right, it is 90". she enthused. Then, smiling, she added, "I should expect that from a member of staff at a university...".

Yes, you should expect it; I certainly did, which is why I was astonished you needed a calculator.

I told them I knew because 18 shillings in old money was 90p.

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Copyright © 2006 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).