Gas Rationing and License Plates: Is That a Zero or an O?


That harlot Sandy banged us hard last Sunday.  Now, over a week later, many of us still find ourselves impotent, powerless.  No TV, no Internet, no phone, no microwaved Hot Pocket®. For some, these losses transform trivial issues–like buying a loaf of bread–into potentially life-threatening events.  Lots of people have gone batty.

Perhaps worst, in a sea of bad behavior, was my inane argument about license plates and gas rationing.  Fueled (pun intended) by most NJ news sources, I learned that vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers can fuel up on even-number days, odd-number plates on odd-number days.

My turn!

Ok, we’ve got some order in this chaos. I check my license plate: odd.  Now, my wife’s plate immediately confuses the sh*t out of me.  It seems to float away from the bumper, now a hovering Mayan hieroglyph, an impenetrable gaggle of symbols.  My mind is weak from stress.  I get pissed.

Red-faced and furious, “Tell me–is that the letter O or a zero?!”  I’m so obsessed I’m panting.

Completely disregarding the question, my wife exclaims, “Zero is an even number!”

“No it’s not!  I don’t even think it’s an integer!”  I’m a mathematical fool.

Hands in the air, eyes orbiting her skull like distant white planets, exasperated, “Yes it is!”

Defeat washes over me, until, “Ok, your license plate has a “1” preceding this… whatever it is… this letter Z / number O situation.  If NJ considers this the letter O, then your license plate ends with a “1” and you-go-on-odd-days!

She’s fed up and basically says she’ll take her chances.

I drag out my response with unmistakable pomposity, “This changes e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.”

Nothing is settled, and I still have many concerns, chief of which is my inability to make sense, whatsoever. I did learn a big lesson, though–humans are always one power outage away from broiling lunacy.

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3 Responses to Gas Rationing and License Plates: Is That a Zero or an O?

  1. This very discussion was on a friend’s facebook thread. I argued that zero is neither, since it’s nothing, but for gas-buying purposes even. Then some guy came along who actually knows math, and proved incontrovertably that it’s even. That is, proved it to those who can follow that gibberish! But I’m willing to accept his expertise.

  2. Adam, FYI: Zero is definitely an integer. Integers are a subset of real numbers, They are numbers that can be written without a decimal or fractional, and that includes zero and negative numbers. With that in mind, 3 is odd, 2 is even , 1 is odd, zero is even, -1 is odd, etc. I’m going with even! A real problem would occur if someone pulled up to the station and their plate was a symbol for Pi. I’m guessing it would depend on how many decimal positions a person could carry it out.

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