There’s no question that the Eclair is taking its lumps out there on the city streets, and between losing the sideview mirror and getting relocated for the “Sex and the City” movie and witnessing that burst of violence on a block I had always considered safe, not to mention dreading the coming of winter, I found myself following up on the information about parking garages in my neighborhood that I received on Diwali, the Hindu Feast of Lights. The garage closest to me, a mere five blocks away, is $400 a month (including tax). Another, about the same distance, is $350 a month. Two blocks farther away is a garage for $300. And then there is one quite a bit farther away—twenty-one blocks, to be exact—for $275. Once the price came down below $300, it actually began to sound reasonable. I decided to walk to this garage to see what was wrong with it, that it was so cheap, and to determine, should I capitulate and put the car in a garage, if it would be worth the twenty-five dollars a month savings to walk a mile. I like to walk. On principle, I should go with the cheaper garage farther away, to save money and get more exercise, right?
The garage is on First Avenue and Thirty-ninth Street, and I marched straight up First—no zigzagging through the cross streets or going down to the river for atmosphere—past the Center for Aesthetic Dentistry, past Bellevue Hospital, past the Morgue (which of course does not say MORGUE on it, but Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and Forensics Center, and which is as cold and utilitarian a building as I’ve ever seen), past N.Y.U. Medical Center. By the time I got to the Morgue, I remembered that often I am dropping things off or picking things up at my apartment, and that it would probably be worth it, as long as I was paying for a garage, to shell out the extra twenty-five dollars to keep the car closer to home.
The cheap garage is across from a big hole in the ground between First Avenue and the East River. After satisfying myself of its location, I walked past the Department of Environmental Protection, trying to get over to the river, and could not help but notice that there is a block of alternate-side parking (Tuesday-Friday) way over there in Midtown East. It’s surrounded by garages, and extremely inconvenient, and I wonder how many people know about it. Then it dawned on me that if I can still get excited about a free parking spot this far from home, I’m not ready to pay for parking.