Wednesday, November 7, 2007

On NYC: Making your own space

"No task is so humble that it does not offer an outlet for individuality."-William Feather

One thing that I love about New York is its constant battle against routine and sameness. At every moment, around every corner lies an opportunity for individuality and a fresh outlook. Always the chance to learn something new.

On Monday I had coffee with a professional colleague and then stopped in at my doctor's office for my annual check-up. Great experience. Very efficient. Hardly any wait. And now I have a doctor before I need a doctor.

I stopped back at my apartment to pick up my lunch bag before heading to my car on 94th Street, where I had parked it that morning in a very legal space. And what to my wondering eyes did appear but a row of double parked cars blocking me in that brought me to tears. Of course there was no cop anywhere to be found; no where to turn for help. I was boxed in - completely. I was standing on the sidewalk, thoroughly exasperated, and then I saw this kind elderly man, also standing by a penned in car with a friend of his.

At least I thought he was kind. I asked him what was going on with the double parked cars and he replied, "Aren't you a New Yorker? It's street cleaning time and there's no where for them to park so they have to do this."

"And how the hell am I supposed to get to work?" I asked.

"Well do you have a better solution? Maybe you should run for mayor," he said in a mocking tone.

Now I was really steamed.

"Usually they leave a phone number as a courtesy," he offered

"Courtesy? Please. What would be courteous is for them to get off their lazy asses and drive around to find a legal spot like I did early this morning. I've heard of make your own pottery, but make your own parking space? This is asinine." There wasn't any phone number on any car in the row either. So much for "courtesy."

"Well that's the way it goes, kid."

Now I'm fit to be tied. First my car is penned in. Then this curmudgeon disguised as a kind old man gives me a hard time with that New Yorker, "Everyone Knows This" nonsense, and now at 31 I'm being called "kid".

His friend commented to me that I was being remarkably good natured about all of this because she was completely furious. This made me feel better - I thought I was being obnoxious. She counseled me that she felt I could inch my way out with the tiny space between the two cars that had blocked me in. I figured what the hell - did I have anything better to do at the moment?

20 minutes later I had inched my way out, literally inch by inch, nearly hitting the two cars beside me and in back and in front of me. Once out of the space, I breathed a sigh of relief, though still annoyed at that indignant man.

That's the thing about NYC, just when you think you know what's going on, you realize you don't. It will leave you with your jaw dropped and scratching your head on a daily basis. There are more than an ample number of opportunities to make your own way here, figuratively and literally. And the only way to learn these peculiarities is to live through them.

No comments: