Sunday, March 6, 2011


For people living in New York City, you need to learn very quickly how to maneuver yourself around town to get errands done. Everyone has their system, walk, train to train, automobile, any numbers of ways. Some people use the bike basket to carry groceries, or cab it home, it all depends on coordinating your first errand, the direction of your second, then when you are finished, how to get home. It can feel like you are stuck in a giant maze, plotting away, hoping you do not hit a roadblock along the way.  I noticed a man today outside of the Container Store, clearly excited regarding his home improvement purchases which consisted of an unassembled bookshelf, a file cabinet and a desk lamp. I watched him position those oversized shaped boxes every which way to maximize balance, weight and visibility onto a small blue shopping cart. Finally he gave up, placed the lamp at the bottom of the cart, balancing the tall, long box containing the bookcase on top of the cart, and proceeded to push the cart with one hand while dragging the file cabinet along the concrete sidewalk using a make shift handle he punched into the side of the box. Oh did I mention it was raining?     

Today we had a bunch of events to do in the city so after a quick run to Target, then picking up my wife at the local gym, we drove into Manhattan. When we lived in the city, we always had a system to get around. If we had a bunch of local chores, we used the circle method, if they were across town we used the linear method, and if they were all over the place, we used the car. Since we are regularly visiting the city, our current method is what we call Last at-First Stop, which means we look to park where ever our last stop will be so we can just get into the car and drive home. Today's events included a birthday party, a basketball game, then a visit with friends. The rain posed logistical problems because that involves limited walking. The party (west side mid 40's) was a drop off, meaning we did not need to stay, which left us two hours to run sub-errands (errands within errands), then head over to basketball (east side, mid teens). So the first plot point was the party. Using the standard drive by, I drive to the entrance of the party spot, slide into a illegal spot long enough for my wife and son to hop out for the drop off. I then make my way around the block just slow enough so when I return to the drop point, my wife is standing in front again. We drive south and find a lovely spot, two cars in off the corner on 18th and Sixth. We browse some shops and grab a bite to eat, hit the Trader Joes to stock some dry goods and head back to the car for the after party pickup. I wanted to get a chance to say hello to the party hosts, so when arriving back at the party, I squeeze back into another illegal spot, quickly jump out as my wife slides from the passenger seat to behind the wheel. I run upstairs, greet the parents, wish the birthday girl a Happy Birthday and gather my son and a friend for the ride downtown. Communication is key, so I phone my wife that we are on the move and select a rendezvous point. With the craziness of Times Square, an impromptu protest rally and the rain, our best point was two blocks down heading east. Me and the two boys hoof it the two blocks, turn the corner and reach the double parked car in minimal time. 

Having experience in the next neighborhood usually causes little stress in the parking department, but the pouring rain creates a glitch. The best course of action is using the drop off then parking method, a common method when kids are involved. I drive down 2nd Ave. and turn east onto 14th Street, stopping in front of the Y. The three passengers hop out and I pull away, past the first intersection and turn right at the second. Turning right once again I am now driving back towards the Y, but just a block lower. I find another perfect spot, this time one car off the corner, just past 1st Ave. I press the button on the key, flashing the lights and locking the doors at the same time, and jog the one block to the Y. 

The kids are upset about losing the game, but are excited when we are invited back to the apartment for some appetizers and catch up time. The rain had increased, so I suggest getting the car and driving the four blocks to the apartment. I jog back the one block to the car, and drive once again through the intersection, turning right at the second, then turn right once again, back towards the Y, in essence going full circle. I stop in front of the Y and my wife, the two boys and now the boy's mother skip through puddles and hop in the car.

The windshield wipers are on top speed as I pull over as close to the path up to the apartment and press the hazards button set in the middle of the dashboard. The two boys and two moms get out of the car and run up towards the front door. I watch them until they are out of sight, depress the hazard button, put the car in drive and proceed to find my third parking spot of the day. It only takes me going one block and an illegal u-turn to land the car in a perfect spot. I open the hatch, pull out the oversized golf umbrella, close the hatch, lock the doors and make my way towards the apartment building. Last at-Last stop is the appropriate method and the perfect ending on this rainy Sunday. 


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