( Below is the Text on the Rasta Parking Sign )

Advocates of improving our lives through random acts of kindness have suggested plugging expired parking meters to spare violators a ticket. On one Caribbean island this kindness reached a new pinnacle. Here's what happened.   

A town in Ohio placed an ad in a government publication offering for sale out of date, but still functional, Duncan parking meters. The price was bargain basement. The mayor of a small Caribbean island town, who happened to have an MBA degree from Harvard, noticed the ad and thought it would be a great way to raise some money by charging tourists to park. 

The program proved very unpopular with tourists in spite of the festive painting on the meters. It was discontinued, the meters removed and sold to junk shops. The mayor was not re-elected despite having that Harvard MBA. 

Some meters were purchased by the very tourists they previously offended but many began turning up on grave sites in the town’s cemetery. Interestingly, what may have started as a prank is now part of the island’s folk ways, much like old oil barrels ended up being made into drums in Trinidad.

Each year the island's meters are redecorated in a ritual reminiscent of Memorial Day in the U.S. and many tourists visit the cemetery. Ironically, tourists are once again encouraged to "plug the meter". Most do so since it is claimed that this offering assists the departed on their spiritual journey. One Reggae band has even recorded a song called "Quarter of a Man" in tribute to the practice.

Relatives of the departed usually donate the coins to cemetery upkeep. It is believed to bring about very bad ju-ju or magic to steal the coins so theft and vandalism have been minimal according to authorities.

Now if we could just convince our parking police that it’s bad ju-ju to give us tickets.

This nice story isn't true. I think it should be. So, in November of 2002 I planted it on the Internet to see if it will grow.

Update 2008: So far I haven't seen any evidence that this story has entered anything even remotely approaching the status of an urban myth. Maybe it's hard to start an urban myth if you know it's not true when you pass it on? Maybe the source of the story has to be better hidden? Maybe this is just not that neat a story or not icky enough? Maybe I should just call this attempt to create an urban myth a failure and let it go at that?

But I'd rather give it another try and ask anyone willing to: please copy and paste the story's text into an email and forward it to friends (or not friends for that matter) under the guise of being true, heart warming, cute, or whatever else you'd like to label it except false, and see what happens. Pass it on under the title: "A Harvard MBA Only Nets Bad Ju-Ju".