Following the breaking news on the crawl this morning that a Jewish woman will remove her wig for the mug shot following her arrest was the figure of $130,000 being wasted on gas yearly by Upper West Side residents who regularly move their cars in search of a legal parking spot. I'm not sure if that covers the entire group of drivers or just my sister-in-law.
Regardless, it's still way less than a monthly parking space in a Manhattan garage, where spots can go for as high as $2,000 a month, more than a rental for a one-bedroom apartment in a trendy downtown neighborhood. Keeping a stretch-limo in a garage on East 76th Street runs $1,940 while a garage on West 72nd Street charges $822 for a regular car. The average monthly rental in midtown will hit $1,000 this year, marking Manhattan monthly parking as the most expensive in the country.
In addition, New York City drivers get used to being hit up for money at a red light by a guy with a cup, many of whom look more competent and employable than those working at Circuit City or The New York Sports Club. Factor in the need to park the car we've removed from its costly, covered spot and you understand why people who don't live here call us crazy.
Last night we'd driven into the Meatpacking District and as I slowed down to look for a parking spot, a man standing in the intersection called out and indicated I should park on the block where orange cones were lined up along the curb and signs were posted saying parking would be prohibited the following day. I jumped out and had already moved the lightweight, plastic cones when he came charging up, saying, "I'll get those for you," which even my husband had not offered to do. I thanked him, at which time he explained he does this for money.
I know what to tip cab drivers and manicurists, but was fuzzy about what to give a well, dressed, independent parking contractor providing a service I'd neither requested nor needed whom I'd assumed was being neighborly. Because my cash comes from an automatic machine, I had only twenties and a single dollar, which I gave him. His look was the equivalent of a spit. "I get ten dollars!" he said, returning the bill to me.
"It's nice that you're doing that well," I responded, heading to the restaurant to catch up with my husband, who'd gone on to be sure of getting the table we'd reserved.
When I related the story, my husband, who'd grown up in New York, said, "Go right back and give him the ten bucks. He'll scratch the car!"
"But don't bother if he's already done it," our friend, Patty, also a native New Yorker, advised.
I rushed back, was relieved to find the car had not been vandalized and the guy nowhere in sight so I drove around the block and parked it out of his district.