Friday, October 15, 2010

Disaster Strikes

Thursday morning when I got to my car I found it festooned with parking tickets: four fat orange envelopes, two stuck under the windshield wiper and two wedged into the sideview mirror. Arg. When I drove in from Rockaway last Saturday for Dee’s show, I was determined to get a Monday-Thursday spot so that I could celebrate Columbus Day (observed on Monday, October 11th), and I settled for the first spot I saw—actually, I went around the block once, hoping for something better, because I knew it looked a little close to the fire hydrant, but I paced off the distance—about ten feet—and decided to take a chance. I respect the need to keep clear of fire hydrants, but sometimes it looks to me like people overdo it, leaving great swathes of space on either side.

There is something printed at the top of parking tickets that I’d never noticed before: “Write only one violation per ticket.” Two of the tickets were issued by an Officer Winn at 2:16 A.M. on 10/11/10. (Note that I had been there for more than twenty-four hours before my alleged infraction drew any notice, so it can’t have been that egregious. Also note the hour that Officer Winn was skulking around my car.) One ticket is for the fire hydrant (he judged that I was only seven feet from it). The other is for a violation of Code 98, Subsection F2: Obstructing Driveway. Now, there is a curb cut at the address recorded on the ticket, and I was parked at the curb cut, but I’ve been down this street before, and that curb cut is a vestige of a former time, when the building it is in front of was a garage, or even a stable. What is there now is a Christian Science Reading Room, and the place where the cars (or horses) passed through is now a plate-glass window that serves as a showcase for religious tomes. There would be no reason for a car to pull in there, or a horse, unless it was a Christian Scientist.

The second set of tickets are the same as the first, except that they were issued approximately twenty-four hours later, by an Officer Santiago, on 10/12/10 at 12:15 A.M. (the hydrant) and 12:17 A.M. (obstructing driveway).

Whenever you contest a ticket, the Department of Finance offers you a discount if you’ll shut up and go away. (Recently, I received the expected offer to reduce the fine for my “No Standing” offense from $115 to $90, but it doesn’t seem like a big enough discount. Besides, I am sincere in my defense, and it’s worth $25 to me to see if it holds up.) I could contest the two tickets for parking too close to a hydrant ($115 x 2), but I just looked up the rule and it turns out that the prescribed distance is fifteen feet, not ten. So I'm screwed.

But blocking an obsolete curb cut? Google maps has a good shot of the Christian Science Reading Room. (Here’s the link; I realize that by publishing it I risk having someone take my spot, but this one doesn’t seem to have been very lucky for me, does it?) The street view on Google even shows a car parked right where I was parked. If the “Obstructing Driveway” offenses ($90 x 2) are dismissed, I can maintain the delusion that I've saved $190.

I found a spot on the same block on Thursday, far from any fire hydrants or curb cuts. When I walked up the block after sitting in the car for an hour and a half, fuming, I noticed that no one had dared to park in front of the Christian Science Reading Room.

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