Tuesday, May 11, 2010

K Street, Mon., 7:30 A.M.

I am parked where the garbage truck usually double-parks, and a truck from some industrial supplier, with long black pipes on its bed, is double-parked opposite me. It is an excellent spot, which I squeezed into (without tipping over the Ducati at my rear) on Sunday at a little after 6 P.M., especially desirable because alternate-side parking is suspended this Thursday for the Ascension: the first break we’ve had since Passover. I don’t know when I’ve looked forward so ardently to an event in the life of Christ.

I’m here with no coffee and yesterday’s paper. But wait: here’s something I threw into the car last Thursday, before my life was hijacked by a flat tire—an issue of Psychoanalytic Dialogues (Vol. 12, No. 4; 2002), salvaged from two pathologically neat stacks of psychiatric journals in the basement of my building. It opens to an article called “Naughty Girls and the Adolescent Tendency.”

The bill at the mechanic’s was steep: $440. I’m not sure how it added up so fast. He didn’t replace the battery, but the air-conditioner sealant was leaking, and the transmission fluid was dangerously low, and it was time for an oil change. The tire had a nail in it (how mundane). I picked up the car on Saturday, and just as I found a parking spot—I knew the spot was legal because it was raining and I could see the dry outline of the car that had just left it—my cell phone squawked, and I parallel-parked one-handed for the first time, while answering a serious question about which brand of beer I would like to drink that night at a party. (Palm, a Belgian beer, but it would be impossible to find.)

On Sunday, in Rockaway, the cacophonous work on the elevated platform at Beach 98th Street was suspended. Instead, there was a big operation on the beach, moving sand. I get a kick out of it when people write letters-to-the-editor insisting that their congressman do something about beach erosion. But then various government agencies actually try! It was low tide, and an enormous pipe was spouting sea water and sand onto the beach, and a bulldozer was moving the sand into pyramids, later to be redistributed in places where the last winter storm bit the sand right out from under the boardwalk. They're supposed to be done with the "beach replenishment" by Memorial Day. Meanwhile, it looked like some vast Egyptian sandworks.

Damn, here comes the garbage truck: 7:42. At least I am at the right (front) end of it. Cars thread between it and the double-parked industrial-supply truck. The trucker, down from Newburgh, loosens the straps on his load. He’s very systematic. So are the garbagemen. I notice that they don’t recycle (these are private haulers), but one of them removes a five-gallon plastic jug from the cardboard box it came in and reserves the cardboard, which he uses to chock the wheels of the empty dumpsters, so they won’t roll into the street.

When the garbage truck pulls out, the street sweeper is right behind it. I back up quickly as far as I dare before pulling over to triple park next to the double-parked delivery truck. Through traffic is unhappy: there is no lane left for it. But in two minutes it’s all over. At 7:53, I’m back in place. The industrial truck makes its delivery, tightens its straps, and leaves; another truck pulls in behind me, and men in white offload food to the hotel. I barely have time to notice that the city has planted four new trees on this block, where there was already a ginkgo, when an acid-yellow truck belonging to NYC DOT Meter Maintenance double-parks alongside me and a man gets out and unlocks the Muni-Meter. He is wearing big gold rings. He returns to his truck just as I am leaving my car, at the stroke of 8, and I have a chance to survey the inner workings.

Some things are worth getting up early to see.

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