Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday Spot

“Are you leaving your car here till tomorrow?” A cheerful light-skinned Latino was addressing me from the curb.
“Oh, O.K. I’m on the other side and I was going to try to move now so I don’t have to do it tomorrow. But I just missed.”
“It’s all filled in already?”
“Yeah. I guess it’s because the three guys didn’t move.” Nobody had come to mind the car in front of me or the car and motorcycle behind me. I’d watched from a meter across the street as a policewoman issued tickets to both the cars (but not the motorcycle).
“Maybe you could try to negotiate with someone farther up.”
“Nah, I know all these guys. They park here all the time. You do, too, right?”
“Yeah, I park here a lot.”

Actually, it’s been a long time since I put in a full hour and half of alternate-side time on this block. I got here at eight-thirty. The street sweepers came, a pair of them, at nine. Competition felt fierce. There was a green Pathfinder double-parked in front of me. I was determined not to let anything come between me and my spot, so I tailgated the second street sweeper and then waved the Pathfinder back so that I’d have room to parallel park between the two scofflaws. It worked.

I am outside a barbershop. A man with a big pink head and sparse white hair is getting blow-dried. He checks his watch. What more can the barber possibly do? Oh, it’s a nape shave.

The pink guy is out of there and a boyish young man is in the barber’s chair. He executes a funny gesture. He wants an inch off at his temples? And a straight line down each side of his face? The barber is Italian. He talks with his hands as he clips and combs.

A man with a barefoot baby asleep in a Snugli stands on a stoop and rings a buzzer. No one answers, so he makes a call on his cell phone: “Hey, what’s going on?” A woman comes out the door with a stroller, and the man cheers up: “Hey, how are you?” The baby wakes up when the man extricates him from the Snugli and puts him in the stroller. But he doesn’t cry. I assumed that the man was handing the baby over to the woman, but no: he leaves, pushing the baby in the stroller.

There’s a delivery to the door on the other side of the barbershop, and a pickup of two big net sacks of dry-cleaning from the Chinese laundry. I could be on Sesame Street. Or Penny Lane.

“Yo, I’m leaving from that spot,” a black guy at my passenger window says, pointing across the street. “You could move, and that way you don’t have to sit no more.”
“Thanks, but I already invested, and I don’t want to sit tomorrow.”
He understands. “You only got fifteen minutes left. The machine come by?”
“It did?”
And he's off. In less than a minute, his spot is taken.

At ten, a couple arrive at the car in front of me, a pewter-colored Ford Taurus. She plucks the ticket off the windshield and gets in the driver's seat. The Latino guy who wanted a Thursday spot reappears, just in time. He is getting his wish. He pulls his car up next to mine and waits for the couple ahead of me to leave. His spot across the street gets taken instantly.

Meanwhile back in Penny Lane the barber shaves another customer.

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