How Many Matt Clausens Are There?

Anyone else find it odd how, with supposedly 14,000 Flexcar and Zipcar users in the region, both the Washington Post and the Associated Press featured the SAME driver and the SAME soft story lede on the SAME day?

The AP lede:

Car-sharing grows in popularity
By BRIAN WESTLEY / Associated Press

When Matt Clausen’s car broke down about a year ago, the timing was bad. His wife was eight months pregnant and the Capitol Hill couple did not want to deal with the hassle of buying a new car or spending a lot of money on repairs.

So Clausen, 33, made a decision that friends greeted with raised eyebrows. He gave up his 1991 Toyota Corolla and became one of thousands of area residents to sign up for a car-sharing program.

“I tried it out for a few weeks and found that it worked so well,” said Clausen, who is a member of Zipcar. The company is one of two industry leaders expanding their presence in the region as a small but growing number of residents look to avoid high insurance costs, hefty parking fines and rising gas prices.

The Washington Post’s A1 lede:

More Area Car Owners Shift to Hourly Rentals

By Steven Ginsberg
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 29, 2005; Page A01

Matt Clausen’s friends told him he was crazy. Absolutely nuts. How in the world did he and his wife expect to take care of a new baby if they got rid of their only car? How would they get to the doctor’s office? See their friends?

Clausen harbored his own doubts, but he had also done some math. He was paying $450 a year in insurance and $800 in repairs, plus gas and other nagging costs. The hassle equation didn’t add up, either: His station wagon broke down a lot, and he was sick of hunting for parking.

So he ditched the clunker and put his trust in Zipcar, one of two car-sharing companies in the Washington region that offer a range of vehicles for rent in increments as short as a half-hour.

Is there some epidemic of Matt Clausens in the area? How did both organizations come to be doing Zipcar stories at the same time? How’d they end up with the same main character?

We’re pretty sure someone deserves a nomination for “hack of the day” here, but we’re not sure whom. If you can shed light on this puzzle, email us.