Wednesday, November 15, 2006

There is no such thing as saving a parking space on foot

Parking in Manhattan is a mixed bag of driving in circles, denting your bumpers from back and forth maneuvering in tight spaces and racing ahead when you see someone with a possible key in their hand. I do this every day and with experience comes expertise. Twice in the past month I have had applause for my parking skills from the bar hounds hanging out on the sidewalk - finishing up millimeters from touching both cars in front and behind me.

There are adventures in driving and parking, which doesn't seem intuitive. When one is alone in the car, how could there be any adventures? Aside from tickets and single people using the HOV lane, occassionally something happens. Like tonight, which resulted in a near death fight over a parking space. I'm still a little shaky.

The city is digging up the avenue where I live, resulting in the loss of many overnight parking spaces. It's a matter of supply and demand. Since dozens of spaces are not usable, finding a space on the side streets is more urgent. So when I drove down my block at 7:40 tonight and saw an empty space just a few steps down from my front door, I was elated.

But there was a man in a leather coat standing in the space talking on his phone. How rude. I backed into the space anyways, lowered my window and asked him to move. Well maybe I didn't ask. I might have told him to get out of the way. He told me I couldn't park there because he was holding the space for a friend who was on his way. WHAT?? There is no saving spaces in New York. Was this guy nuts? Or a Republican? That is just totally against all human rules. What does he think, we are at the movies and his friend went to get popcorn? Absolutely not. First come, first served is the rule. So I continued to back in until I was very close to him. No way was I going to back down on this moral imperative.

He yelled "you can't hit me because I'm from Canada." Canada? I didn't know how to respond to that so I just told him I didn't care, he needed to move. He told me he would stand there forever because he had more time than I did. Probably because he is unemployed or a free agent con artist or thief who has a lot of free time between jobs. I told him I had all night in fact. Plus, I pointed out, when his friend arrived he wouldn't be able to get into the space since I was partially in it and wasn't moving. I tried to point out that he wasn't going to get this space, it was physically impossible. We could be there a long time.

Then he got threatening and started calling me names and saying aggressive things that through fear I now do not remember his words, only that I suddenly thought that maybe this guy was a psycho killer rapist. So I called 911 and just then his friend drove up. Alternating between giving a description of the guy and my location, and trying to listen to the driver call me pathetic (which maybe I am, but I'm not going to be bullied by a large, hairy Canadian either) I had trouble following either conversation, which is a shame because I would have liked to repeat it here.

During this disjointed conversation I told the driver that his friend threatened me and I was calling the police. His very sophisticated response was that he didn't hear his friend threaten me. Like he was my star witness? They scowled a little while longer and then believed me when I craned my neck out the window to see what color the Canadian's pants were (blue jeans I told the 911 operator but really it was too dark I couldn't see the color, just made a wild guess). Finally they drove away with a "goodbye sweetheart." Yes they called me sweetheart. I sat in my car for another 15 minutes shaking, until I saw the police car drive by, lights flashing. I didn't get out and explain. (They did call me back about an hour later to follow up; very good customer service I thought.)

I am not a normal New Yorker who takes the subway. I am so pathetic that the only job I can find is far outside the city, and I spend an inordinate amount of time in my car - about 3 hours a day. I actually bought my very first new car (my 7th car) this year and chose it based on the seat - heated, moves 7 ways electronically etc. I spend a lot of time sitting in it. I am convinced that my chronic back pain is a result of driving in stop & go rush hour traffic, though Dr. Spero the chiro insists I'm wrong.

When friends or colleagues learn about my commute the most common response is "it's a reverse commute so it's not so bad," which is something only a very naive person who has never been to New York, no less in a car, would say. It is always bad. And if it isn't bad, then you meet bad people who try to steal parking spaces.


Shana said...

That is the funniest thing that I have read in a long time. I am glad you are safe but it is hilarious that he actually said, "you can't run me over because I am Canadian" as if that would make a difference. When did all Canadians get diplomatic immunity?

Anonymous said...

rediculous Democrat... isnt the point of public parking, first come first serve, maybe you were first with your car but he was the first one at the spot. You lose too bad.