Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Spot

The writing was scribbled on a piece of cardboard. It read "parking $25". Even though I was driving at about 1 mile per hour, I had failed to see the hand held sign as I drove by. My eyes were fixed on the long line of cars headed towards Yankee Stadium. As game time drew closer, the possibility of finding parking seemed more and more remote.

I was the only one of the 4 in the vehicle on the right side of 60. To say we had been around the block a few times collectively was obvious. Yet, in a moment where sharp thinking was required, we were about to exhibit the collective intellect of a piece of dirt.

"Turn around. I saw a sign for parking about a block back". With dutiful obedience, as soon as I had an opportunity, I swung the car around and headed back from where I had just come. I had been on this street hundreds of times throughout the years and never remembered any parking lots in that immediate vicinity. It should have registered with the 'too good to be true' portion of what was allegedly my brain. It did not.

There were 4 people on the sidewalk, as I looked to my left. The sign was being held high by one of the gathered crew. I was waved over by the 'attendant' and headed towards parking salvation.

In front of me was a 2 car garage, with 2 cars in the allotted spots. As my car took up virtually all of the space on the sidewalk between the front of the garage and the street, I inquired as to where the car would be parked. "Leave it here, pal." 'Here' was a sidewalk on Jerome Avenue about 3 blocks north of Yankee Stadium. This was not good.

I turned to my fellow travelers for advise. The desire to catch the first pitch clearly outweighed any attempt to utilize the tiniest speck of logic. We would leave the car on the sidewalk and trust in the integrity of our fellow man. The $25 was handed over. No receipt was given as this was most clearly an informal arrangement that these 4 had made with the City of New York.

The walk to the Stadium was filled with stutter steps as I repeatedly questioned my sanity. I heard myself actually saying "it's only a car". I think this was going to impact on my enjoyment of the game.

There were policemen on every corner, directing pedestrians and automobiles. "Officer, I just parked my car on the sidewalk in front of a private garage, a couple blocks north of here. Is that ok?". I knew how this sounded even as the words emerged.

"Are they still trying to pull that scam? No, your car will be ticketed and towed". Why was I less than shocked?

I left 2 of my buddies with their tickets, and began the walk back to retrieve the vehicle. My friend who accompanied me was discussing with me the possibility, or sanity, of asking for the $25 back. I did not imagine what was about to transpire.

"Excuse me. I just spoke with a cop who said there was no permitted parking on this sidewalk. He said the car would be ticketed and towed."

"Oh, I am sorry. I didn't know. Let me just give you back your money." Why was this so easy?

It turned out that while I was being addressed, it was not really me who was the intended recipient of this apology. To my complete surprise, the policeman who I had spoken with had followed close behind me on my walk to my car. The money, and the remorse, were apparent products of the man in blue.

As I pulled away and headed once more in search of the elusive place where I could rid myself of my vehicle, I told my friend that life was just made up of a series of stories and we had just created one of them. He nodded and laughed slightly. We both recognized that we had survived this long in life in spite of ourselves. I had no doubt that around the corner we would find yet another opportunity to display our limitations. The possibilities were endless.


Bruce Egert said...

Last night the NY Mets beat the Phillies 1-0 in a combined 3 hit shutout to pull within 1-1/2 games of first place. Santana, the best pitcher is baseball is 4-1 with an ERA that is below 1. He does this with change of speeds and pinpoint control.

Parking is $10 per car at Citifield.

Robert said...

If I park there and take public transportation to and from Yankee Stadium, it may work out cheaper for me.

Richie Jay said...

Hmm. Though it goes against my family's honor to admit I attended a Mets game, I should point out that I was charged $18 last week to park at a CitiField lot (and, unlike some dudes with a cardboard sign, this was an official stadium lot).

So, either I, too, was a victim of a parking scam, or I think we have an anti-discrimination lawsuit on our hands (I was with a disabled friend, so we parked in an accessible lot, though truthfully we would have parked anywhere and we got frustrated driving in circles trying to find any lot at all that was open to the general public, and that was the first one that would take us).

Robert said...

I think Mr. Egert, as an accomplished lawyer and monitor of all things Met, should be the one to handle your claims.

Richie Jay said...

Upon further inspection, the Mets website clearly states that all parking at all CitiField lots is $18. So, if a man comes up to you holding a sign that says "Parking $10", his name might be Bruce, and it's probably too good to be true ;)