Monday, September 28, 2009


I was wrong last week about Sunday morning at ten-fifteen being the optimal time to find a parking spot in Manhattan. I got an earlier start this Sunday, coming in from Rockaway in torrential rain (“light rain,” it said on the radio; the truth was somewhere in between), and looking for a spot at closer to nine-fifteen. I figured that the folks who park in the sanctuary would still be lingering over their bagels at that hour, waiting out the rain, but I drove there anyway, not daring to hope, planning my strategy in case there wasn't a spot, and reassuring myself that any Monday-Thursday spot would do, because today, Monday, is Yom Kippur, and alternate-side is suspended, and Thursday I am leaving the city at dawn. And behold, when I turned the corner, there were only two cars parked in the sacred seven-car precinct!

I pulled into the very same spot I had vacated on Saturday, behind the red Honda Prelude, with its front wheels cocked into the street, as if parked in a hurry by someone who really had to pee. Its owner is a sort of crusty older woman who reminds me of a retired proofreader. One of her headlights is taped into place. I watched last Thursday morning as she approached her car, removed a flyer from the windshield, went blindly to the nearest litter box to throw it away, and then ambled across the street to put something in the mail before settling into her car, leaving the door slightly ajar. It surprised me that she didn’t start the engine and straighten her car out in the space—I had left enough room for her to maneuver. But I guess I’m just a perfectionist.

Last week a friend put me onto this site:, another new link. At first, it scared me: it makes a lot of information available, and it could increase the competition for a spot. But though it showcases a lot of lovely parking spots, it doesn’t yet have the technology to tell you whether they’re available or not. And as for piecing together a parking strategy that will minimize time spent sipping coffee in the car and watching for the broom in the rearview mirror, anguishing over whether the S.U.V. behind you is going to move in on your spot and crowd you off the block, ruining your week—well, I think I am pretty good at that already.

But it would make sense to have some kind of network of like-minded people you could notify if you happen to see four lovely spots open on a prime block. I don't have a Twitter account, or an iPhone, but it may be time for me to upgrade (my cell phone is ancient—almost as big as a ladies' size-7 shoe). I could start with the retired proofreader.

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