The thing to do on a freezing-cold morning after a snowstorm, when you’re hoping that alternate side has been suspended (even if the storm was overhyped), is dial 311. On Thursday morning, no one was answering. I was home with the radio on, and Jeff Spurgeon was saying that it was fifteen degrees in Central Park, minus two with the wind-chill factor—“mostly sunny, but so what?” The phone rang and rang and rang. I hung up and tried again, and this time the recording came on. A man’s voice said, “Thank you for calling the City of New York. If this is an emergency, please hang up and dial 911.” He went on about heat-related complaints, etc., and finally a crisp female voice said, “Alternate-side-parking regulations are in effect today.” She sounded harsh, even cruel.
But I didn’t mind. I didn’t mind because I was only calling out of curiosity. It was already eight o’clock and I was still in my nightgown, because I didn’t have to go dig my car out: I had foreseen this very event. On Tuesday morning, before the storm arrived, I decided to give up my parking spot and drive out to my mechanic’s, in Rockaway, to have the car winterized and get this lame windshield wiper fixed. I called ahead and asked if it would be O.K. to drop the car off and leave it until Saturday. It is a family-owned garage, and I got the patriarch, who is known in the community as Big Bulloch. “No problem,” he said. “I know who you are. The lady with the glasses, right?”
Well, I don’t think of myself as the lady with the glasses, but I’ll take it—any shred of recognition from a car mechanic is like a drug to me. “Even with the storm coming?” I said.
“We’ll put it someplace,” he said. “We’ll put it inside.” Hallelujah.
And hallelujah again on Thursday, when I could gloat about my foresight and wisdom and caution and common sense. True, mid-February is an odd time to be winterizing your car, but it’s only just been wintry this week. And, true, if alternate side was suspended my car would be good for a full week, because Monday is President's Day, an opportunity for the Monday-Thursday parking crowd to express their patriotism.
And then today, two days after the storm, I see in the Times a story about the bitterness of the alternate-side parker and how much flack the Mayor has taken for the decision not to suspend, and for the insensitivity apparent in remarks like this:
"There was not a lot of snow. It was easy to move your car," Bloomberg told reporters on Thursday. "I don't like to get up early in the morning and have to do anything, either. I'd like to sleep in, too. But it was the right thing to do."
"This in all fairness was no more than a few inches of snow in most places and it wasn't like you had a couple feet of snow and you couldn't physically move your car. You had to put on your galoshes and go out there and move it," said Bloomberg.
The latest, as of noon on Friday, is that the Mayor rescinded his decision not to suspend and cancelled all the parking tickets that were given out on Thursday. But he did not acknowledge the anachronism in his use of the word "galoshes."
Now I feel a little left out. To think, I could have been out there chipping ice off my windshield at dawn, getting all incensed, being ticketed or not being ticketed, getting a shot of adrenaline that would have lasted for days, and then, to top it all off, receiving an apology from the Mayor! The parking story of the season, and I slept through it.