OK, I was planning to post Part 4 of my groundless but hopefully amusing treatise on parking styles, but I see last week’s Part 3 (Lions) had a slower than usual week for readership and I don’t want to bore anybody too much so I’m not going to. I’m almost a little bit sure that it was just all that good weather that distracted loyal readers from the important things in life, like where the Hell am I going to park my car at my sister’s barbecue in Washington Heights this weekend or I wonder what other parking obsessed people like myself are thinking today. But just in case a few of you have decided I have gone off the rails of this crazy parking thing, I’m giving it a rest.
So, I’m not going to talk about my last made up category of parking styles that 3 or 4 weeks ago I called Crabs in the great native American tradition of naming the strange ways New Yorkers behave after animals. Do you really care that the Crabs (as I like to describe them) are the luckiest of all us parking experts? I think not. Sure we’ve all felt the adrenaline of a great parking conquest and basked in the warm rays of a car in for the night and we could only feel a fraction of these unless we had also experienced the cold isolation of a late night completely unable to find a place of rest. If we hadn’t felt the pain of that inevitable question: Is tonight the night when no parking space will ever open up; how could we understand the happiness of finding even the easiest parking space in the history of all parking spaces? How could we understand that the Crabs really have it the best?
I mean there has to be a night, at least one night, in my entire life where there just won’t be a parking space. If there can be a perfect storm of Alternate Side Suspended days lasting for 2 weeks, a hydrogen bomb, or a 3- term Mayor, then the laws of probability (whatever they are) dictate that at some time in your life you will not find a parking space all night long. Then, when most of the world is sleeping, do you see what you are made of. What do you do? Stalwartly drive around until morning when the world goes to work and a space must become available? Sleep in your car? Park in front of a hydrant for the first time in your life? Have a total breakdown of everything you believe and find a 24-hour garage?
We don’t really care how the Crab completely avoids ever having to face these unhappy predicaments. And anyway, truth is it hasn’t happened to me yet. Amazingly, thanks to the constantly changing, constantly moving way of life in this city, I haven’t had to face this kind of soul searching, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t know the possibility exists. We all do.
So I won’t be posting about the Crab’s daily Alternate Side ritual that spares them from this darkest human condition. To be more specific, I won’t describe how anywhere from a half-hour to an hour before the end of their local street sweeping period, the Crabs cheat a little and move their cars to the opposite side and sit in them until the street sweeping regulation ends, thereby guaranteeing that they are good for the following day’s Alternate Side rules when they will make their easy move to the other side all over again. Of course, if parking enforcement comes by, a whole block of cars and brake lights fire up, but usually just being in their car is enough to avoid a ticket. Anyway, now is not the time to post how the Crabs actually enjoy this little ritual of waiting in their cars and have been seen doing everything from reading newspapers and books, helping children with homework, watching movies, blog posting, to just hanging around their cars mingling with the other Crabs. Social animals these Crabs
Of course, to be a Crab, you or a significant other has to be free and in your neighborhood during the crucial Alternate Side hours which probably means that you or your significant other works at home or is underemployed (which could make anyone a little crabby). And, I won’t even comment on the most annoying part of being a Crab when the street sweeper comes after you have already claimed your tomorrow’s space today. That tractor engine throttling and its snakelike hissing of brushes constantly moving are a dread sound for the peaceful Crab already on tomorrow’s side, but just a little early. Because then the Crab must move his or her car out of the way or else earn the wrath of the Sanitation (and parking enforcement) officials, not to mention feeling guilty for preventing the streets to be swept. This sometimes requires some fancy maneuvering as a whole block of Crabs moves to the opposite side and back again after the Sweeper has passed. I might not mention that on the Upper West Side all the double parked cars on the “good side” makes this maneuver surgically impossible and a slower Crab or two has to leave the block entirely and circle back around at which time there are no spaces left.
I also won’t relate the story of a friend who happened upon a block of Crabs on 2nd Street just after a Street Sweeper maneuver. His radiator was steaming and he needed directions fast and Eureka! there were several people standing around he could ask. Any innocent who can’t believe his luck in finding a parking space after a Street Sweeper has forced a whole block of Crabs to shift sides was right the first time. It wasn’t luck. The Crabs actually attacked my friend before he could even ask where the AutoZone was. It was unclear who was blowing off the most steam, but they accused him of many heinous crimes not the worst of which was trying to steal their parking spaces. Beware an angry Crab, especially a lot of them.
So now that I haven’t completed this Parking Styles in 4 types (Sharks, Eagles Lions and Crabs), you may fairly ask what can we conclude from it all. What was the purpose? How will it help me find a parking space tomorrow or the day after? Well, I don’t want you think this was all just a pointless exercise, but rather a scientifically formulated and proven psychology of what happens to people shut in on a small island for a long period of time.
In a nutshell, this is what I have learned: Sharks can hang out with Lions, but not date. Sharks can marry crabs. Lions are good in public relations and communications careers. Eagles are great friends and terrible enemies and Crabs can hang out with and date anybody they like.