How to Be…Parked

by Lindsay Timmington

Folks, I just returned from my new part-time job.

It’s called parking.

As in, my car.

My car that I recently used to transport my beloved sidekick, Fable, to her new home in NYC because she’s A) too big to fit under a seat on a plane, 2) would probably not make it through the security line without being taser-ed because she tried to eat a TSA agent’s face.

So I drove her eighteen hours from Minneapolis to  New York City.  A city that people move to in order to get rid of their cars because of the huge public transportation system and the fact that there are almost as many taxis as cockroaches here.

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When I came back,  I got asked a lot if I’m going to keep the car while living here. My answer varies daily, but I’m inclined to say yes, I’m going to keep it.  For a coupla reasons.

First:  Apparently I’m a 32 year old version of the little old lady who lived in a shoe(box) apartment with so many pets she didn’t know what to do and I *need* the car in case one of my animals requires a trip to the emergency vet (an activity I’m far too familiar with).

Now listen, I know I can hail a cab and cross my fingers that my shirt is cut low enough that someone will take mercy on me and transport me and my beasts where I need to go–but that seems a risky little game.

B-the car is paid off.  Completely and totally.  And it’s a good little car that’s already trekked to Hawaii and back, survived back-panel punching, played bumper cars with mopeds and all sorts of things that make it a winner in my book.  So it’s hard to think about selling it and then buying a new car at some point in the future.

But here’s the thing.  In NYC, parking is about as easy to come by as a paid acting gig that doesn’t require you dressing like Ariel from The Little Mermaid in Times Square and posing for pictures with tourists.

Which is why it’s now one of my part-time jobs.  That I don’t get paid for.   Except in reassurance that if Sharknado strikes, or if one of my beloved creatures gets deathly ill,  I’ll have the car.  It’s an insurance policy, if you will.  A very expensive and time-consuming insurance policy.

Cause here’s the deal.  Where I live, in Queens, there’s two kinds of parking.  Street parking and almost-as-expensive-as-your-rent paid parking.  I, for obvious reasons, chosse street parking.  But what that means is that every day Fable and I take a little stroll past the street on which my car is currently parked to make sure it hasn’t been stripped for parts, or the half empty Dunkin Donuts Coffee that’s currently in a cup-holder hasn’t been yoinked by a thirsty homeless person.

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And then, every Thursday or Friday at 9:25 am we walk back to the car that I haven’t moved in a week and play a little game with the rest of the people in my neighborhood called, “Race you to a parking spot and wait for an hour.”

Seriously.

This is what they do.  The people here move their car as designated by the signs–either Thursday or Friday at 9:30am, wait for both the police and the street cleaners (of yet I’ve which to see, by the by) come by, do their thang and then everyone attempts to zip to an empty space–AND HERE’S THE BEST PART– THEY WAIT–THEY WAIT IN THEIR CARS– until the magical hour of 11am comes and they vacate their vehicles and move on with their days.

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What the sweet WHAT?

That’s right.  They park their cars, turn off the engines, recline their seats and WAIT.  I’ve played this little game three times now and on move-your-car days it’s like my neighborhood turns into the most competitive version of real-life Mario Kart ever.

We race each other down stretches of one way streets, cut each other off (ahem, excuse me, THEY cut me off, my Minnesota license plates baiting these aggressive East Coast drivers to try to scare me with their big-bad-indented-bumper ways) and I tremble with anticipation and fury, wanting to play this aggressive driving game but at a distinct disadvantage as I still don’t know where the hell I am.  All the one ways and and unfamiliarity with my neighborhood beyond a ten block radius make me the consistent loser in this game.  So I troll the streets cursing driveways, fire hydrants, the people who park worse than a blind-folded three year-old and the other drivers who view parking as a competitive sport.

But what’s perhaps saddest about this part-time job is the sheer and utter glee I feel when I finally get a spot, especially if it’s less than five blocks away from my apartment.  There is much shouting and jubilation and Fable barks and I dance and it’s confirmed in the Sunnyside neighborhood that the girl who lives between the Thai restaurant and the funeral parlor, is in fact, crazy.

It’s not sad that I feel joy about finding a spot.  What’s sad is that I don’t MOVE FROM THAT SPOT for precisely a week until I get up and do the whole damn routine over.  I don’t drive to Target to pick up household goods or take Fable to Flushing Meadows to run because I’m too damn scared that I won’t have a place to park when I return.

So I’m taking bets now—bets about how long  this part time job will last before I realize the utter stupidity of owning a car in this city, with it’s high cost of insurance and parking spot wrestling matches and the fact that I get anxiety every time I get in the car because I’m not sure if today is the day I won’t find a spot and be forced to drive around Queens in one big circle until I run out of gas, patience or both.

So park your cars in your garages,  in front of your house, or in a lot that doesn’t charge $7 per 15 minutes and relish- RELISH, I say-  in the beauty of parking as a non-competitive activity.   And  finally, folks—place your bets.

Addendum:  The day following this post Fable and I took a stroll by the car and saw this:

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You win, NYC parking laws.  You win.

Anyone want to buy my car?

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