The Pope’s Decision

Pope Benedict XVI announced today that he is resigning the papacy, effective February 28.  He’s the first Pope in centuries to resign.

Benedict, who is 85, said he was resigning because he felt his strength had deteriorated.  He believes that leading the Catholic Church requires strength of mind and body and concluded that his failing condition was leaving him unable to adequately perform his duties.

I’m not a Catholic, and I therefore can’t speak knowledgeably about whether Pope Benedict has been a good Pope, a bad Pope, or something in between.  However, I can applaud the Pope’s resignation decision as an all-too-rare example of selflessness and self-awareness by a powerful individual who could easily have served in his office until his death.  How many Popes have been unable to let go of the trappings of office and the adulation that accompanies it?  How many have been unwilling to acknowledge their declining physical and mental abilities?  How many have been content to let their responsibilities drift as their individual capacities have diminished?

I wish more significant public figures — be they Popes, or Senators, or sports stars, or others — were willing to engage in objective self-evaluation and step aside upon concluding that they were no longer up to the job.  Perhaps Benedict’s surprising decision will cause other people in important public jobs to consider whether they, too, should make room for a more active, energetic replacement.

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The Value Of A Buddy

This morning I will drive in to work, as I always do, and park in my spot in my parking garage, as I always do.  My “parking buddy,” the Yankee Cavalier, will do the same.  We both park in the same, elongated parking spot in the same garage.

Our parking garage is a throwback.  Unlike more modern structures that have only individual parking spaces, our aging garage has “buddy spaces” — spaces big enough to accommodate two cars.  Buddy space parkers give each other the spare set of keys to their cars.  If I get to the spot first, I’ll back all the way in, and then the Y.C. will park in front of me.  If I have to leave before he does, I’ll need to use that spare key to move his car, pull my car out, and then back his car into our joint space.

The Y.C. and I have been buddy parking for more than 20 years — longer than some marriages.  The garage has been sold from one conglomerate to another, and still our buddy arrangement prevails.  We’ve exchanged the keys for a number of new cars and alternative cars, and I’ve sat in the driver’s seat of Y.C.’s rig, moving it just a few feet and then backing it up again, countless times.

Sure, it’s not perfectly convenient, but a buddy space is cheaper than a single-car space, and those savings have added up.  During our 20-plus years of buddy parking, I’ve saved about $5,000 that otherwise would have gone into the coffers of some impersonal company.  For that kind of savings, I can endure a little inconvenience — and I also appreciate the useful reminder that even small monthly savings can, over the course of a career, accumulate to a significant sum.

Yes, the Y.C. has been a very good buddy to have.