Friday, January 4, 2008

Cold Snap

Quick before it thaws, I have to complain about the cold. It was freezing in the car yesterday morning. My breath and the steam from my coffee fogged up the windshield, and I finally turned on the defrost (but not the engine). When I arrived, there was a delivery of MX 19 Uprights in progress. MX 19 Uprights are not pianos or military ordnance but construction equipment: mobile scaffolds the size of fork-lift trucks, with a platform on an accordion-like riser. They were bright blue, and a man was backing them down the street one at a time into a garage-size elevator across the street.

Amazingly, there was a spot available behind me, and it was still available at 7:35, after the broom came. Just goes to show that you should always check your favorite spots, because you never know. Across the street, on the Tuesday-Friday side, was a black pickup truck whose owner, like me, had found his spot on New Year’s Day. I know because as I was waiting sedately in the right-hand lane for the light to change so that I could make a right turn and look for a spot on this highly desirable block, the black pickup, coming from the opposite direction, made a squealing left-hand turn before the light had changed and, in a maneuver worthy of a stunt-car driver, zipped into a spot that I hadn't even seen yet. I felt like an amateur.

After the broom passed, I relocated to be last in line, leaving the free spot in front of me. (It's an advantage to be first or last in line, because you can't get parked in.) Now this huge candy-apple-red Dodge van with New Jersey license plates lucks onto the spot, but the guy (and it does turn out to be a guy) can’t parallel park to save his life. He begins his approach from way out in the middle of the street, instead of the standard foot or so away from the car in front of the spot. It’s torture to watch, and I repent my end-space strategy, but now there’s a garbage truck double-parked next to me and I can’t move until he leaves. As soon as the garbageman has squeezed back into his cab and driven away, I pull up into the space I started out in, leaving myself a little room in front, because this van is gigantic and this guy from New Jersey is clearly challenged, and he manages to back into the space behind me.

'Tis the season of Christmas trees in the garbage. The guy in front of me, in a black Chevy pickup, leaves his vehicle, but only to get coffee. For a minute, I thought he knew something I didn’t know—something about the new, “simplified” Alternate Side Parking rules. Could it be? Would they have the sense? Surely it’s clear that after the street sweeper has gone by, there’s no further need for us to be sitting in our cars, freezing our asses off. It would just be a matter of the cops' knowing that the sweepers had gone by. I suppose this would be difficult to coordinate, block by block, but if the cop can’t tell that the street is cleaner, maybe there was no point in the sweeper’s having come anyway.

Meanwhile, the Mayor and the Department of Transportation have bigger things on their minds. The Times reported today that as part of the congestion-pricing plan some city employees will be losing their parking permits. These permits, regarded as a perk of the job, have been fairly easy to obtain since the advent of the color Xerox machine—I even had one once (it expired, and anyway I was afraid to use it). If the Mayor thinks that the police are going to give up the privilege of parking their private cars near the precinct house (and anywhere they damn well please, because who is going to issue a ticket to a fellow police officer?), he is in for a surprise. The cops are probably chuckling over their doughnuts even as I write. The Times quotes Ed Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, sounding not so benevolent: "I think we're going to get into all kinds of issues if they start saying cops can't have parking places."

If I had such a permit—and I have a good friend, not a cop, who does—and it was taken away from me, I would be aghast. I would go on strike. I would be tempted to quit my job. I would definitely be part of the problem, not the solution. So I guess it's just as well that I don't.


erieblue said...

Hey, did you see there's going to be a TV show on A&E about parking--PARKING WARS. Maybe you can convince them to come to your favorite block!

MJN/NYC said...

Yes, I heard about Parking Wars. I understand it takes place in Philadelphia. I'm planning my whole schedule around it: Tuesday night at 10 on A&E.