My New York State inspection sticker expires—or, rather, expired—on 08/08/10. It seemed so far away back in June, when I renewed my car registration. And there is no grace period. The police come around in the middle of the night, my neighbor T. says, and shine a flashlight on every car to read the stickers in its windshield. What’s more, 08/08/10 means midnight, Saturday, August 7, 2010, not Sunday, August 8, at 11:59 P.M. I don’t have till Monday. They take this stuff seriously.
I had been planning on driving into the city on Monday and doing various good deeds while my mechanic gave the car its emissions test, etc. But last Friday, when I called, they said Monday was too busy and that I should come in on Saturday. No way I was leaving the beach on Saturday.
So I called Bulloch, my Rockaway mechanic. Baby Bulloch said for a car as old as mine (1990) they couldn't do the test on weekends—something about the equipment being hooked up to the state. It was already too late in the day to get it done on Friday. I could bring the car in on Monday. Meanwhile, park it in a driveway.
(Do they make these things expire on Sunday on purpose?)
My neighbor T., who has been borrowing my car on a regular-enough basis that his two-year-old son can pick out the Éclair in a parking lot (granted, it has on its rear bumper a distinctive lineup of stickers for the fishermen’s parking lot), arranged for me to park behind his truck in the lot of the Getty station on the corner. The car could still get ticketed, the owner warned. But unless the cops really have been doing nighttime surveillance and knew the Éclair was due for inspection and were just waiting for me to fuck up, it shouldn’t attract any attention, except maybe to the wisdom of its owner in putting it in the lot, as our street is being torn up tomorrow. No Parking Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.
There is so much commotion on the block. They are still working on the elevated station (once every hundred years, whether it needs it or not), which involves sprucing up the areas under the elevated that are owned by the M.T.A. A patch of broken concrete on our corner, under the El, separated only by a fence from T.’s deck, has been torn up (jackhammers, backhoes, rude awakenings). Right around the corner, a truck from the D.E.P. is pumping sewage from a manhole near the corner to one up the street. In between is a major sinkhole, caused by a blockage in the sewer line. This is what they are going to fix.
Yesterday, a man with the face of a villain in a Beatles movie came down the block with a camera. He was documenting conditions, he said, in case property owners complain of damage. Though his face could so easily have turned to a snarl, as he took pains to explain to me that he was completely neutral, that these pictures would show an impartial view of what had been here before the excavation and would be used to solve arguments between the contractor and the property owner after the excavation, his face mellowed, and I saw that he was not a villain but a nice man with a camera.
Much as I hate to see the summer end, there’s nothing like a sewer project to make a girl's fancy turn toward thoughts of fall in Manhattan.