Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Parking Spot...Conclusion

If you read yesterday's post, you now have an idea of what a parking spot means to someone who lives in New York City.

The amount of time devoted to the daily procurement of a place to leave one's wheels is excessive whether you use your car on a daily basis or, as many New Yorkers do, only use their cars once or twice a week (usually to go to the Costco in Jersey that sells wine).

You must also remember that these were the pre-Giuliani years, an era that helped clean up the streets in more ways than one through that administration's refusal to tolerate nuisance crimes. This policy, as intended, worked it's way up through the hierarchy of criminal offenses until New York City became a much improved place to live. Only now, under the extended watch of  Mayor Bloomberg, is it beginning to slip again.
My hero.

Translation: lots of cars were getting stolen when we lived there. For us, the number was three.

Once our 12 year old Chevy Caprice died a natural death, we replaced it with another older model. We didn't even have a chance to fall in love with the car before it was stolen. Based on tire marks, we believe it was towed, taken, most likely, for parts.
The club in action.

Our next car was atypical: a spiffy little black number which, while used, looked kind of nice. Just like in the recently stolen Caprice, we had installed a kill switch and used both a club (immobilizing the brake pedal by locking it to the steering wheel) and a crazy collar that went over the steering wheel, itself.

Needless to say, it took a lot of time to lock the car down before walking away from it.

This did not stop the thief who took our black car.

Insurance paid for a rental which Seth needed to get to and from work while we figured out our next move. Before we could decide, the rental was stolen.

Thus began the new era of a deranged husband lurking by the window with a baseball bat and flared nostrils.

I also must mention that a man who lived several blocks away had attempted to stop a thief in the process of trying to hot wire his car. The thief, seriously miffed by the interruption, shot the man to death in front of his house. This made for lots of basket cases in my neighborhood--those determined to protect their property and others, like me, determined to prevent another murder.
A frequent sight
inthe mornings.

Fast forward a few months to the night when Seth saw someone breaking into the station wagon we'd recently bought. He'd left his bat in the other room and while he ran to get it, I began flashing the porch light and waving to the guy breaking into our car to make him just go opposed to killing Seth, God forbid, on the sidewalk. 

It worked. The guy turned and strolled away, hands in pockets, as my six year old son Tommy (what can I say... you grow up quick in the Naked City) and  I attempted to physically restrain my husband from following him. All we managed to do was slow him down by a minute or two but by that time, the man was gone.

Enough was now enough.

We had friends who were renting garages in the neighborhood, so we started asking around. We got wind of a car-less elderly couple with an empty garage four blocks away.
The only way to
do business.

After negotiating a price, giving them references and sitting in their ornate living room enjoying very strong coffee and delicious baklava, it was ours. For 125.00 a month, the days of struggle were over. 

My only worry now was whether Seth would get mugged late at night on the walk from the garage to the house. We also developed a lovely relationship with the couple who fed us more baklava over the course of the four years we rented the space.

Eventually we left New York City but despite our many years spent as expatriates in this strange, green land, we still get a thrill every time we pull into our driveway that leads to a parking spot of our very own.

We only lurk by the window with a baseball bat for old times' sake these days.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.


  1. ah, you bring back memories Susan. circling the block over, over and over, widening the net a few blocks in either direction, for a parking spot during those overnight visits to my brother in Jackson Heights. How can I forget the Christmas eve when thieves broke into the trunk of our car, parked in eyesight of my brother's apartment, and stole all the Christmas gifts intended for distribution the next day? yup. as usual, you capture NY just as it was.

  2. Thanks so much for the lovely compliment, Ruminations!

    Ahhhh, awful about the Christmas gifts. It certainly is a tricky place to grow up...and it makes us who we are for better or, occasionally worse.

    So glad you stopped by today!

  3. I love Rudy, too. He systematically imroved the city in every way and was put in place by God to help us get through 911.

  4. I had a car stole when I lived in Flushing and then one vandalized when I lived in Brooklyn. I got rid of it.

  5. You'r right about Rudy! Viva Rudy!

  6. I totally, 100% agree, Anon. Thanks for reading today!

  7. Ahhh, yet another Rudy fan. Viva Rudy is right, Sharona!
    I met him can find the post in the search bar on the right if you're interested.

  8. Three cars stolen? I can certainly understand your husband's urge to lurk by the window with a bat after that! We had a car stolen once too, it was really a shock.
    I'm glad you have a safe parking spot now! :)

  9. Thank you, Super Earthling...and I'm sorry it happened to you.

    Yes, three times. By the third time, we were old hands at it all.

    Thanks for reading!

  10. Wow! What was your insurance bill like?

  11. Astronomical, Michelle...and then they cancelled our policy because we were considered too high risk. Isn't that why we have insurance in the first place?