Monday, December 6, 2010


I was going to take the car out to Rockaway last weekend, but it wasn’t exactly beach weather, and besides, I didn’t want to give up my parking spot. I had begun to wonder how long I could stay in this fine spot on K Street—perhaps till March? It has been extremely convenient, even with no alternate-side-parking holidays falling on Monday or Thursday until Martin Luther King Day, on January 17, 2011. After sitting in the car for a half hour, I have time to walk over to my health club by the river and get in a swim before work twice a week. Who knew that having a car in the city could be such good cardiopulmonary exercise?

Last night, a Sunday, I happened to pass K Street on foot, and noticed, at the far end, an ominous salmon-pink sign that said “No Parking Saturday.” It wasn’t clear whether it meant the Saturday just past (December 4th) or the Saturday to come (December 11th). If the former, I might arrive at my spot on Monday morning, with my swimming gear, only to find that my car had been towed. I did not sleep well for the suspense, awaking at about four in the morning with the sensation that my inner lining had become hypersensitive to Turkish cuisine.

But this morning the car was there, innocent of parking violations. What’s more, the pigeon fancier showed himself. He is an old man, bald and shambling, who emerged from my friend K’s building at 7:30 with a plastic container (as for hummus) full of bread crumbs. The pigeons were waiting for him. Behind me was a motorcycle. I watched in the rearview mirror as its owner arrived and suited up. He laid his gloves on my trunk, got his helmet out of the space under the seat (that helmet must have been freezing), and tucked himself into a sort of lap robe—a combination windbreaker and potato sack—before starting up and riding off.

There was a long piece in Saturday’s Times about the city’s plan to crack down on parking scofflaws. The person with the most unpaid tickets is a guy in the Bronx who owes $57,526. He said a friend of his racked up those tickets while using his van to make deliveries. The van has since been repossessed, and the friend has fled to the Dominican Republic. “I learned my lesson,” the scofflaw said. “Don’t trust your friends.”

The Broom appeared at 7:50. I left the car running awhile after moving, and even turned the heat on briefly (today’s weather featured the season's first snow flurries). On my way down the street to the pool when my time was up, I took a closer look at the "No Parking Saturday" sign. In fine print, someone had added the hours that No Parking would be in effect: 5:30 A.M. to 6 P.M. I have to get up on Saturday at five to move the car? This is sterner discipline than I have come to expect of my alternate-side-parking exercise routine.

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