Jack Ohman

Jack Ohman: The Nobel Prize for free parking goes to ...

Professor Randy Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine Monday, and this news was very resonant for me. Not that I’m a candidate for a Nobel Prize or anything (no cartoon category), but because Sacbee.com ran a photograph of Schekman holding up his true prize:

Free on-campus parking for life at Berkeley.

The look of Schekman’s face said it all. He wasn’t thinking about the ceremony in Stockholm, or meeting King Carl Gustav of Sweden (who I am sure gets free parking for life), the gold medal, the praise of his peers, the pride of his friends and family, or even the money. He was thinking, “Wow. I will never have to pay $10.95 per day ever again just to put my stupid car in front of my office.”

Two other researchers shared the Nobel award, and one of them works at Stanford. The other is from Yale. This article isn’t about them, and I didn’t name them because I don’t know if they got free parking or not.

If they didn’t get free parking, they should.

I have free parking, and when I found this out when I started at The Sacramento Bee, tears of parking joy filled my eyes. It was almost like winning the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. For those of you unaware of the MacArthur award, that’s the “Genius Grant” where someone just shows up on your doorstep with a check for $625K, because someone thought you were a genius.

And, to my knowledge, only one cartoonist has won the MacArthur award, thanks for asking.


His name is Ben Katchor. I’m sure he’s very smart, and possibly a genius.

So I won’t be sitting by the door waiting for my genius check.

But I can also say with a high degree of confidence that, as a New Yorker, Ben Katchor might have traded $100K of that award for free parking.

Anyway, I can’t really get into the subject area of what Schekman won, but it was something about how cells move major molecules around like cargo, to other locations.

You know, like a parking lot.

For free.

You people just don’t understand science.