A Metropolitan Transportation Authority manager in New York City is being accused of using an inflatable doll to skirt high-occupancy vehicle lane rules during his daily commute, the New York Post reported.
What are the details?
The outlet confronted Giulio Divirgilio, a general superintendent at the MTA Buses department, as he pulled into his Brooklyn office building Wednesday morning, snapping several photos of the manager and his blown-up passenger seated inside his Kia Telluride.
The dummy looks like a middle-aged businessman wearing glasses and a gray suit. The outlet — as well as several social media commenters — immediately drew comparisons between Divirgilio's dummy and "Otto Pilot," the inflatable doll featured in the 1980 comedy “Airplane!”
In the Post's pictures, the dummy was seen seated upright in the passenger seat and secured by a seatbelt strap.
“I don’t use it for the HOV,” Divirgilio insisted when asked about the dummy by the Post. “I use it for the company.”
The outlet reportedly pressed the issue again, and Divirgilio replied, “Have I ever lied to you?”
What are coworkers saying?
But colleagues of Divirgilio are not so sure he's being honest.
“It was weird when we saw that thing [in his car] in the morning," one anonymous buses department employee said. "Why would anyone have that there except to do HOV stuff?”
One union official added, “It’s unbecoming of a manager. We laugh, but what else is he doing in secret that we don’t know about?”
Divirgilio is reportedly a former New York Police Department officer who has been working at the MTA for more than 10 years. His annual salary is $122,000 a year, the Post reported.
No one has come forward publicly yet to confirm the manager's claims that the doll is used for office purposes. The MTA is said to be investigating the incident.
Using dummies to illegally utilize carpool lanes is a common trick for commuters, though Divirgilio's attempt seems half-hearted at best. The doll barely looks human. Others have gone to much greater lengths to fool police while saving drive time.
An inflatable doll resembling the one used by Divirgilio dubbed "Carpool Kenny" is available for purchase online. The item, priced at $15.79, was sold out as of Thursday afternoon.
In a product info statement, the seller states: "Are you frustrated by endless traffic jams? Do you glare at the HOV/Carpool lane wishing you could cruise past everyone? Of course, in order to do that you need at least two people but who wants to carpool? That's why you need Carpool Kenny! He'll get you where you want to go without the annoying chatter. Just inflate him and you're ready to go."