Wednesday, November 7, 2007

How Do You Plead?

Sarcasm is not appreciated at the New York City Department of Finance, to which I was trying to write a letter to go with a Not Guilty plea in the matter of my car’s collecting two tickets after being relocated by the police because some people wanted to make a “Sex and the City” movie. Way down in the fine print of the notice on the pole was a plea for understanding by the production company, Avery Pix, which had a permit from the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting. They apologized for the inconvenience, but suggested that by having my car towed I would be contributing, albeit inadvertently, to a noble industry that employed thousands.

It turns out that all that conciliatory language was lifted directly from a Sample Resident Letter available online from the MOFTB, which production companies are encouraged to send out in advance of inconveniencing New Yorkers. I discovered this while surfing the Web as I waited for someone in the Location Department of the production company to call me back. I had copied their phone number off the notice and had called ostensibly to get the number of their permit to include in my letter to the city, in which I was going to suggest that they, not I, pay the tickets. In my heart of hearts, I also blamed them for making me park on that block where the catfight broke out. I walked past yesterday and all the dramatis automobiliae were still lined up along the curb: the crazy Asian’s Subaru, my gray Honda, the Puerto Rican’s S.U.V. (he has a miniature Puerto Rican flag flying from his rearview mirror). I’m dreading going back there tomorrow.

But they surprised me at Avery Pix by offering either to pay the tickets for me or to reimburse me for them. So I didn’t finish the letter, which, in my effort to divert any hint of sarcasm, had veered off into an unconscionably long-winded story about the night I parked in the Sicilian city of Syracuse in a spot that, the next morning, turned out to occupy some people’s market stall—were they mad!—and about the triumph of finding a spot in a piazza in Palermo, a grubby, cacophonous, gorgeous, bombed-out, anarchic city, which was perhaps my finest parking moment. Instead, I whited out my Not Guilty plea, checked Guilty, and paid the fine. I faxed copies of the tickets to the production company, which is going to send me a check. It's a little anticlimactic, but I am relieved to know that no one really expected me to just roll over and pay $130.

So never mind.


erieblue said...

Wow--a production company with a heart. Were your two Italian parking adventures on this last trip? I think this must be why I like taking the train in Europe--so I don't have to try to explain in a foreign language.

MJN/NYC said...

The trip to Sicily was several years ago. Driving there was hair-raising. I was forever having to back down steep one-way streets built for donkeys. No driving on the recent trip. I took a bus, of all things, from the Venice airport to Padua. The only trouble was that the bus made a stop in Venice, and it was hard not to get off.

tricia said...

I recently saw a little article with Bloomberg saying how happy he was to have his own residential street blocked off, as they were making ANOTHER movie there, and it is so very good for NY. Of course, he gets around in a limo.
More than anyone I know, when I get out of contact with you for more than a week, you have done something enviable (please diagram the preceding sentence)