If your Ford had a Matthew McConaughey, it would be a Lincoln

Why do these parking spots get progressively oilier as you move left to right?

In planning a trip to a local college, I decided to scope out their parking situation ahead of time. As I scrolled around the parking layout on Google Maps, I couldn’t help but notice in one of the lots that the oil stains in the parking spaces do something odd: they get progressively worse from left to right.

The effect seems to be true for the entire parking lot, but most pronounced in the top row of spots closest to the road.


The weird thing is these spots don’t seem to have any clear relationship to the proximity of nearby buildings. They’re as equidistant from the main building (the sports complex in the center of the photo below) as the the ‘clean’ spots are.

There is no building immediately to the left of these spots, either; the closest building in that direction has its own lots anyway, so unlikely anyone parking in this lot would even be going to that building.

Also odd is that the effect is linear - each successive spot is just a little dirtier than the one next to it. You’d also think this pattern would have to be followed by many cars over time to leave these kind of stains. Almost as if the parking spots had been assigned based on how much oil the owner’s car leaked.

So why would the progressively leakiest cars always be parked left to right in this row, with the leakiest in the far corner?

The mind boggles.

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