What a day!
Because I had to pick someone up at LaGuardia at 7:30 A.M., I thought it would be more convenient to park my car on the street overnight (instead of in the $300-a-month garage two miles away).
This was my first mistake. As I sauntered across Lexington Avenue I noticed that the street was littered with glass shards. This bit of urban decay didn’t disturb me too much until I realized that the glass in question was all that remained of my driver’s side window. A quick inspection of my car revealed that a thief had taken (1) a radio, (2) a Cheerio-encrusted baby seat, (3) cassettes of various musical persuasions, and (4) a $5.95 spatula from Zabar’s.
Anyhow, realizing that I was now in danger of being seriously late for the airport, I quickly drove what remained of my car to the $300-a-month garage where I should have left it in the first place. From there I walked to a nearby hotel and hailed the first cab in the taxi stand.
“Where you going to?” the cabdriver queried, before I was within ten feet of the cab.
“You’re not allowed to ask that.” I reminded him of the law.
“If you’re not going to the airport, I’ll find someone else for you. Where you going?”
I held firm. “You can’t ask that.”
This colloquy might have gone on forever, but fortunately, at that point another cab dropped a passenger off. I jumped in and loudly announced, “To LaGuardia.”
“We can make it to LaGuardia in twenty minutes, can’t we?” I asked my new driver.
“They’re doing emergency repairs on the Triborough; we’ll be delayed about a half hour.”
Fortunately, the shuttle was also delayed so my guest was only waiting a few minutes when I finally arrived: the day was still salvageable. We drove to the office where I borrowed a car from a coworker.
My guest and I spent the rest of the morning fruitfully. We then drove to Manhattan for lunch. On 56th Street between Ninth and Eighth avenues traffic stopped.
“I say,” my guest proffered, “we haven’t moved in ten minutes.”
“Don’t worry, this sometimes happens. Got to take the bad with the good in the big city.”
Fifteen minutes later, I thought I heard a clearing of the throat. “Doesn’t this ever get to you? We’ve only moved three cars in 15 minutes.”
“Oh, not really,” I said through gritted teeth. It was important to maintain some aura of calm; after all, I was looking to borrow money from this man’s bank. I needed to show that I wasn’t one of those hot-under-the-collar types.
Another twenty minutes passed.
I loosened my collar.
Upon finally approaching Eighth Avenue, we were greeted by a policeman.
“You can’t continue cast.”
“Because I said so.”
“Do you care to elaborate? Why is the street closed?”
“It’s not closed, but we’re letting in a limited number of cars.”
“I don’t have to tell you.”
“But you let the car before us through.”
“He works on this street.”
“So do I.”
At this point the policeman felt that his point could be better emphasized by pounding both fists on the hood of our car. Additionally, the sound of the car horns in unison behind me seemed to suggest that others also thought it was outrageous that a citizen should be so bold as to inquire why one of his streets had been shut off. I figured that it would be simpler just to make a left on 57th Street. Got to take the bad with the good in the big city.
Again, I encountered resistance.
“You can’t go through, we’re only letting through a limited number of cars.”
“But I work here.”
“Sure you do.”
“Listen, could you please tell me why the street is closed?”
“If you must know, there’s a ’Celebration of Broadway’ street fair going on.”
And here is where I lost it.
“This is absolutely crazy. While cars are broken into, and cab drivers refuse to take individuals to areas which displease them, and bridges fall apart because of lack of maintenance, and spatula-wielding criminals freely roam the streets, this city fritters away its energies backing up traffic for hours to celebrate an industry that’s been dying a slow death since the invention of motion pictures? I’m sorry, I’m sick and tired of New York celebrating its past while ignoring its future—gangway.”
With that, I threw caution to the wind, plowed my car past the policewoman, and headed to my office.
Got to take the bad with the good in the big city, you know.