On Friday, I got up really early to go into the city from my home in Yonkers. My brother was in from Colombia, so we had an early morning breakfast as is our wont. Breakfast at 8 am at the Grey Dog on University. Last time we were there, Alec Baldwin was there, but he didn’t recognize me. Maybe this time.
I get up and drive to the subway. I’ve usually got great parking karma, but today there are no spaces available.
Oh, what’s this – an open spot? What’s the sign say? “No Parking, 7AM – 4PM School Days.
Is today a school day? It’s summer, but it’s Friday. I’m not sure.
I call 311.
After waiting a minute or so, Victoria gets on the line. I ask her my question, and she says it all depends on whether that school has summer session. She’ll look up the school for me.
Except it’s St. John’s – a parochial school — so it’s not in her database. I should ask the school.
I decide not to chance it and move on. Still can’t find parking. I say, screw it, I’ll park at a meter, there’s plenty of meter space. I go to a 6-hour meter. I put in my card, select my hours, and click pay. It tells me that the transaction is cancelled, as it is not accepting money right now. But I don’t want it right now, I want it in two hours (and will happily pay for the two hours in between time). Can’t make it work.
So I call 311 again.
I get Victoria again! I explain to her my problem, and she says yes, there’s no way to over-ride the machine. I should come back at 8 a.m. and feed the meter then. But that’s when my breakfast is, I tell her, an hour away! I move on. I find a place on the street where I am inches on either side from a driveway. My Honda Odyssey is squeezed in but okay. I walk to the subway, get in, have breakfast. Sadly, Alec neglects to show up. Some candy-ass excuse, no doubt.
I come back to my car. In the middle of the street, I notice there is a wire down. Reaching all the way to the street. It looks likes a phone wire, but I’m not an electrician, I can’t be sure.
I call 311 for the third time that day. Victoria doesn’t answer (perhaps she’s on a coffee break?) Instead, some other guy. I explain to him what’s going on. It’s not sparking, I think it’s a phone line, but it might be electric. They say, well if it’s electric, he can call Con Ed. Am I sure it’s not electric? I don’t know, I tell him. I don’t think so. In the meantime, I’ve watched five cars run into this thing or swerve at the last second to avoid it.
Click. He transfers me to 911. “Caller, what is the nature of your emergency?”
I explain the situation, (and the guy keeps stopping me as if I were in an actual emergency and just going too slow). He says, hold on. He’s alerted the fire department. They’ll be there in 5 minutes. Can I stay?
“Well, I was going to go home now.”
“They will just be a minute.”
I stay. About 10 minutes later, they arrive. It is a phone line. The fire guy wants to know my name. “Smith,” I say. “Smith. With a P.”
As four guys figure out where is the best place to cut the phone line, I take off.