Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Boot

The alternate-side-parking season got off to a dubious start this week. I returned to the city late on Monday (Labor Day) and, knowing that the pickings would be slim, passed up a Tuesday-Friday spot in the hope of scoring a Monday-Thursday one so that I wouldn’t have to devote two hours to sitting in the car on Tuesday morning. That is like standing on the subway platform and letting the local go by, in the hope that the express will soon be there. Not a good strategy. That Tuesday-Friday spot was the only one within a twelve-block radius.

On Tuesday morning, I tried again, but I still didn’t feel like sitting in the car for two hours, even though there was an excellent article to read in the Times about the arcane origins of the parking rules in the West End of Rockaway. I guess I’m out of practice. 

No Parking Saturday & Sunday, May 15-Sept. 30
Kirsten Luce for The New York Times

The Eclair is in pretty good shape going into the fall: new exhaust system, new front brakes, two new tires. After a trip one Saturday to Stony Brook, I grudgingly heeded my neighbors’ advice to put air in the left front tire, because it was low. Running my hand over the tire, feeling for the cause of the leak, I scraped my finger on something. A nail? A row of acupuncture needles? Holy Camaro! I was feeling the steel in “steel-belted radials.” This tire was not just low—it was bald. I pumped it up anyway, and the next morning the bald tire was completely flat. (Warning: Inflating a tire may dislodge the nail that is holding the air in.) I called AAA, and a guy came out and put the doughnut on, after which I hobbled out to Brooklyn and got in line at Pep Boys. This was not my idea of a fun Sunday, but the alternative was to take time off work to go back to the mechanic who, after inspecting the car just two weeks ago, had let me drive off on bald tires. 

Anyway, I surrendered to the fifteen-dollar lot by the river, and the guy in the booth was very sweet. I took a chance and left the car in the lot overnight. This morning, after seeing off my house guests—my cousin and her husband, with whom I had had a riotous time in Rockaway, possum hunting (stay tuned)—I walked to the river to move the car. It was right where I’d left it—hadn’t been towed—but the left front wheel had a boot on it. I was not that surprised. It was almost as if I’d been waiting all my life to find out what happens when your car has a boot on it.

The same sweet guy was in the booth. I told him about the boot, and asked, “What do I do?” He said, “You pay me thirty dollars for parking overnight, and I take it off.” Fortunately, I had some money in my pocket. I’ve discovered that I like having money in my pocket. “Let’s go see your car,” the guy said. He unlocked the boot, which opened like a jaw. It was bright blue. “It looks like a toy,” I said. “It works,” he said, opening and closing the jaws. I gave him two twenties, and he gave me two fives. “I didn’t put the boot on,” he said. “The night guy did that.” I gave him back one of the fives.

Now it was Wednesday morning and I was cruising for a spot, and everybody knows that nobody moves on Wednesday, because very few blocks have street-cleaning rules on Wednesday. That is why it is such a waste when, say, Yom Kippur falls on a Wednesday.

I carried on—somebody had to be giving up a spot to go to work—driving to my most reliable 7:30-8 block. There were cones set up on the Tuesday-Friday side, but on my preferred Monday-Thursday side there was one free spot that I managed to wrangle the Eclair into. On another block where I hadn’t been able to park yesterday, because some people were making a stupid movie, a police tow truck had been at work, removing a whole line of cars. Summer is over.


tricia said...

Money in your pocket, a very good thing! Look forward to hearing about the possums (possa?)

steven kidman said...

A great post, parking rules in the West End of Rockaway are pretty good. hat's a great.NY Ship Terminal.