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maura @ 10:37 pm

This week Gus is at a kind of unusual camp. Not unusual in the subject matter — yay for science! — so much as unusual in location. The camp is in Manhattan about an hour’s commute from us, and it’s sort of a complicated commute, too, involving both a subway and a bus. It was kind of a fluke: we’d planned on another camp for this week that didn’t end up working out, and by the time we found out it wasn’t going to work it was already March, which is late for getting signed up for camp here. So when I found this week’s camp I sort of signed us up without much reflection on how the commute was actually going to work.

Because of the long trip in, whichever one of us is taking him that day has stayed in Manhattan and work for the day in the public library, which is kind of fun, actually. But last weekend we realized that the missing link in this plan is the car. What to do about the car? On our block and the streets around our house there’s alternate side parking for street cleaning four, count them, 4 times per week. That’s usually a pain but not a problem — since Jonathan works for himself he’s the car caretaker during the week.

But with this week’s unusual schedule we had to hatch an alternative plan. The neighborhood to the southwest of us only has alternate side parking twice per week, so in theory if we could move the car to one of those streets just after the street cleaner came by we could stay there for 6 days. I found a street that’s scheduled to be cleaned Tuesdays 8-8:30am, so that seemed like our best bet.

The good thing about that narrow AM street cleaning window is that it’s right before I have to leave for work, rather than midday like many other streets. The bad thing is that’s a narrow window on a car-heavy block. For some reason* I was weirdly paranoid that something would go wrong, so I got up early to get ready so I could head out the door at 7:45am.

* A rather boring and un-mysterious reason, actually: this week I’m taking 2 vacation days (for book writing) and have a couple of appointments that are taking me out of the office for a chunk of the afternoon, and work time feels short to me (because it is!).

The Alternate Side Parking Theater of NYC is extremely easy to make fun of, but man, this was intense. By 7:53am I was in place near the bottom of the street, adjacent to (but not blocking!) a fire hydrant just in case I needed to make a quick exit. By 7:59am the non-street cleaning side of the street was parked up solid, including me in a hilarious 4 car run of Subarus (ours by far the oldest and most shabby). All drivers remained in their cars; the woman behind me didn’t even take off her seat belt. There was one car left, Massachusetts plates, on the street cleaning side of the street. Tension was high — would that car move in time? Would it get ticketed? I read Twitter, watched, and waited.

Suddenly it was 8:10am and the street cleaner approcheth — a quick wet whoosh and it was off. And THE VERY INSTANT it passed, Subarus (and other cars) sprung into motion to pull over and park in its wake. I was a smidge nervous about the adjusting, but settled our car in well and considerately, I thought. Unlike the lady in a more expensive car who pulled into the space in front of me a few minutes later, hitting our car (gently) several times in the process.

Once we were in position on the newly clean side of the street my stomach and I settled in to wait for 8:30, until the alternate side parking window closed and I could head into work. On my way up the block to the subway I spied the Massachusetts scofflaw: never moved, nor ticketed. Lucky duck.

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2 comments on “parking”

Anne (25 July 2013 at 10:51 am)

NYC Problems! Here, people worry that parking is something like TWO WHOLE DOLLARS downtown.

One thing, though, I was supposed to go to a job interview downtown. This is a large corporation that everyone in the country has heard of. They possess a large parking garage of their own. But can interviewees (or even, ultimately, temp workers, which I was hoping to be) park there? NO! Turned out the interview and job were in the suburban offices. The parking downtown would not have been a huge deal for me, but it just sort of summed up their philosophy of cheapitude.

Meanwhile, Ben is trying to buy houses to rent or flip. The ones across the street from the one he owns only have parking certain hours of the day. Some have slender, nearly useless driveways. Makes renting more difficult. The only one with a new-ish garage is owned by the most successful drug dealer on the block.

maura (27 July 2013 at 9:51 am)

I know, *totally* NYC problem. The car was in the shop all last week and I had visions of selling it, again, but that seems like so much work. I still hold out hope that one day someone will crash into it when it’s parked and it’ll be totaled — problem solved!

One of the houses we lived in in Philly when I was growing up didn’t have a driveway, it now occurs to me. I think my parents had 2 cars then, too, who knows what they did? We had one of those narrow driveways in the next house. I think it was probably fine for the cars of the 70s (and early 80s), but cars are so much bigger now I can see that it would be a problem.

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