Monday, March 29, 2010

Return of the Eclair

The moon is in the seventh house (or something) and Passover aligns with Easter (both Western and Orthodox), so the D.O.T. sent out a long-winded but welcome statement to its people: “Alternate side parking (street cleaning) regulations will be suspended Tuesday and Wednesday, March 30-31, for the first and second days of Passover, Thursday and Friday, April 1-2, for Holy Thursday and Good Friday, and Monday and Tuesday, April 5-6, for the seventh and eighth days of Passover.”

Surely this was a sign that I should bring the car in from Rockaway, where I left it for the winter. I could have brought it in last week, but I didn’t, and this turned out to be a mistake, because in that extra week the car languished … or at least its battery did. I ran into my neighbor and long-distance valet Mr. T., carrying his baby’s car seat in, and he said he’d had to jump the car the day before. He wasn’t sure whether he’d left something on, or if it got too cold, or if the battery was just old. (I have had the car almost six years, and have never worried about the battery, but I know it was a problem for the previous owner, who left the car in Rockaway all year round and drove it only to Dunkin' Donuts on Saturdays.) Mr. T. offered to go with me to see if it would start up.

The Eclair was parked in a Friday spot, and looked quite lovable to me, although it is true that it had grown despondent over the winter; the coffee residue in the bottom of the styrofoam cup next to the driver’s seat was green. And when I turned the key in the ignition, the car showed no vital signs. Mr. T. got his truck and jump-started me, and then led me to a place that he said carried my brand of batteries, to see if I needed a new one.

A mechanic named Julio (according to his shirt) stood by with a battery tester. Julio had a thick accent, so that even if I had known what he was talking about, I couldn’t have understood what he was saying. (He couldn’t pronounce the essential word “charge.”) He said the problem was both the battery and the alternator—“It can’t be both!” T. said—and he’d have to order the part and he couldn’t start the job till Monday. All that was clear was that it was already one o'clock on Saturday afternoon and Julio was eager to be gone for the weekend, and who could blame him.

I was all for driving—that recharges the battery, and I hadn’t been behind the wheel since New Year’s Eve. So I drove first west, to Breezy Point, and then east, over the Atlantic Bridge ($2 toll each way), through Long Beach and back, racking up about thirty-five miles before daring to park and cut the engine. She started up fine when I was ready to come back to Manhattan, although I think the muffler needs work.

Saturday at around six seemed like a reasonable time to look for a spot. The first block I went up offered nothing, but then I turned onto one of my old reliable blocks, K Street, and on the right was a Tuesday-Friday spot with a large piece of furniture parked in it. I double-parked to check it out: it was some kind of wooden wardrobe or bureau, as tall as me and as wide as a double bed, with an inset (broken) mirror. I dragged it up onto the sidewalk. The spot had looked more than ample, but either I lost my depth perception over the winter or the car got bigger, because I had to jockey back and forth three or four times to squeeze in. It was worth it, though: thank you, Jesus, Moses, God of the Old Testament (but not the current Pope!), my car will be safe in that spot for twelve days, until Friday, April 9th. Which is not to say that it will start up again when I need it, but I can always have it resurrected by AAA.

There is a new parking blog, called Parallel Spaces (, whose writer has developed a Manhattan Parking Map. I will add it to my links, along with the Parking Ticket Pundit.


White-Haired Harbinger of Gratitude said...

Do you know of an alternate side of street parking MAP for Manhattan, or at least certain neighborhoods, like Lower East Side, East Village, etc.?



MJN/NYC said...

O White-Haired Harbinger of Gratitude, there is no parking map that is both easy and free. However, you can check PrimoSpot and Parallel Spaces, both of which have tried to codify the system (links on my blog). Parallel Spaces has online parking plans starting at $1.99 a month and a Manhattan Street Parking Map for $39.99. I don't really trust any of these guides, because I would never tell my secret parking places.