The San Antonio Theory of Relativity.

Ignoring the contradictions and laziness in general sentence structure for just a moment, I’d like to suggest that context is everything. (1)

When I was a kid, a 45 minute drive to Baltimore was an interminable exercise. Maybe it was just childhood antsyness (2); maybe it was just that at that point in my life, 45 minutes amounted to a fairly significant chunk of my existence. But when I went to school out in the Midwest, my concept of time changed. Suddenly, an hour and a half seemed like the normal amount of time it should take to drive to the nearest airport. Strangely, a four hour drive to Omaha seemed short. Oddly, at the end of a two-day, 23-hour marathon from Phoenix, I found myself saying, “Wait, it’s already over?”

So time became relative within the particular regional context. The Midwest is enormous; it’s no surprise that people there have to tailor their concept of time to local geography.

Which is why I find it strange that in Texas — a state that touts itself with the tagline “Everything’s Bigger in Texas” — their concept of relativity is so different.

It’s true: they embrace big here. The people are, on average, morbidly obese. Their trucks have beds that extend beyond the limits of modern metallurgy. The two biggest Jumbotrons in the world are in this state.

And yet, there is one thing that Texans do not like more of: walking.

I’ve seen locals happily pay $10 to park a block from the Alamo, even though just two blocks from the landmark, there’s street parking available for a quarter (which buys you 75 minutes in the meter). I’ve seen Texans sit in their cars for twenty minutes at a drive-thru, even though they could just as easily get out of their cars, walk into the restaurant and leave in a third of the time.

But nothing compares to what I saw last Saturday at the AT&T Center, home to the San Antonio Spurs and the Silver Stars. I went to go see the latter play in a WNBA game last Saturday.

Upon arrival, I pulled into the AT&T Center parking lots. There were two lines of cars waiting to enter the lots. Actually, that’s not entirely true: there was one massive line of cars, and there was another lane that was completely empty.

The lane on the right was for the $8 parking that’s closest to the stadium. That lane was filled. The lane on the left — the empty lane — was for $5 parking farther away from the stadium. (For the visually-inclined, note the infographic above.)

So, logic suggests, the $5 lots must’ve been infinitely farther away from the stadium to warrant a discounted price — and a lack of interest from fans. And thanks to Google Maps, I’ve done the calculations.

Based on the approximate location of my parking space in the $5 lot, I walked a distance of about 0.14 miles from my car to the stadium’s entrance. Had I parked in the pricier lot, I would have walked a distance of about 0.08 miles — or less.

I can only assume that eventually, the AT&T Center will began offering even more expensive parking — perhaps for $20 or even $50 — in which fans will have the opportunity to allow their muscles to completely atrophy as an airport-style moving sidewalk guides them into the stadium. We can only hope.

  1. Technically speaking, “context is everything” makes no sense, because placing something within context means taking it out of the general text and inserting into a more specific subtext, which does not and can not encompass the whole of everything. But that’s just semantics and me taking an idea entirely too far. Too far out of context, really.
  2. This does not appear to be an actual word.