Monday, April 23, 2007

Honk if you like Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s birthday is crowned with glory. I took the car to New England for the weekend, and went from there directly to Rockaway, avoiding traffic headed for a Mets game at Shea Stadium: the Throgs Neck Bridge to the Clearview Expressway to the Grand Central Parkway to the Van Wyck Expressway to the Belt Parkway (the only segment that was a little crowded) to Cross Bay Boulevard, and over Jamaica Bay and out to Fort Tilden for the first ever Literary Festival in Rockaway. It was a masterly display of foresight and map reading (south, east, south, west, south, west, south), if I do say so myself. I drove back into the city in the evening with several pounds of books (a temporary branch of Borders in Rockaway drove me slightly mad) and had just reset my odometer and checked my watch to measure my cruising time when I found a spot all the way at the end of my second-favorite parking block.

Come seven-thirty this morning, I am still on a good block but I have to admit that it is not the best spot. When you’re down at the end of the block like this and the street cleaner comes, you can’t pull over to the other side of the street, because you’ve run out of street to pull over to. You have to go around the block and will in all probability get squeezed out. At 7:41 he comes, honking. In an amazing stroke of luck, the car behind me doesn’t move, and I am able to turn the corner—a left turn, into the curb lane, against oncoming traffic (but only briefly!)—and then reverse into position after the street cleaner clears the corner. Yes! My father, while teaching me to drive, once said, “Women cannot drive in reverse.” So this is one of the uses of defiance.

I got back into position just as a police car pulled up and the officer started writing a ticket for the delinquent car in back of me. I was half afraid he was going to give me a ticket for going the wrong way on a one-way street (but only briefly!). Farther up the block, a black Mustang from Wyoming with a piece of sheet metal forming a flap on its hood—a real cowboy car—is not so much parked as abandoned, behind a big rental truck. Neither of them moved, and they both got tickets.

Over the weekend, the Mayor introduced his plan to institute congestion pricing in Manhattan, an expression that I had never heard until a few months ago. Here’s the quote from today’s Times: “Under the plan, the city would charge $8 for cars and $21 for commercial trucks that enter Manhattan below 86th Street from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays. The charge would be $4 for drivers within Manhattan, and several exemptions would apply. No one would be charged on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive or the West Side Highway. There would be no charge for moving cars to comply with alternate side parking, and there would be no charge for taxis.”

I have been waiting for the Mayor to lower the boom, but it seems as if he really does have a soft spot for alternate side parkers. I think I could work around congestion pricing.

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