Sunday, July 09, 2006

Month Two

There was a debate raging in my head about whether to keep my car when I moved to New York. I really hadn't thought about not having it until about two weeks into my stay here. One of the stories I neglected to mention in Month One was the series of events which forced me to consider the possibility of taking the car back to Nashville and using the various mass transit options to get where I needed to go.

It was May 17 and this is the week of the movie theatre opening. I had been parking on this one side of the road next to a cemetery, across the street from the mall, for the past couple of weeks, even though there was a sign that said "No Standing Anytime." As a Nashvillian I was unfamiliar with standing in reference to vehicles, but I shrugged it off because I hadn't been penalized. The only reason I had been parking here and not the mall is that the parking garage at this time had not set up an employee discount and I didn't want to pay $10 a day to go to work, which at that time was every day, all day.

This particular day, many things needed to be done in the projection booth, and at the end of the night, we had to break down all of the discount movies that had played the last three days for the pre-opening. So I was there until 2 AM. When all was done, I left with two Regal corporate guys. As I walked towards the area where my car was, the Regal corporate guys drove past me and one asked, "You OK getting out of here?" and I said, "Yes," because I pointed to a car, that in the dark and at a distance, all alone on the side of the road, looked like mine. "My car's right there," I pointed. And they drove off and I walked towards what wasn't my car. My car wasn't there at all.

Welcome to New York. As the picture above explains, my car was towed. But I sure as hell didn't know what had happened to it--it could have been stolen as well. There were no signs saying, "If you believe you've been towed, call...." so I was forced to dial 911. After some nervous waiting, a cop car came by and I went through the whole process of telling them I just moved here, my car has Tennessee tags, etc. At first, it didn't seem like they were going to find the impound, implying it might have been stolen. But they eventually did. One of my first rays of sunshine, despite the bad circumstances, were these NYPD guys. They escorted me to Queens Boulevard, told me what bus to take back home, were nice in every way--a sharp contrast to the NYPD guy at the Holland Tunnel aforementioned in Month One.

The next day it's a cab ride. The driver is a Muslim, a small-time actor. "Look for me in My Super Ex-Girlfriend!" the driver says, "I have one line!" He then tells me that I look like Tom Hanks, which I have gotten at least three times since moving here. One guy at the movie theatre suggested that I walk around Times Square on opening day of The Da Vinci Code, see if people ask for my autograph.

A guy at my old theatre, the Hollywood 27, once took this poster and pasted my name over Tom Hanks and hung it upstairs for all to see.

Seems as if that sentiment has followed me from Nashville to here. In my life I have also gotten, to a lesser extent, Timothy Hutton and Judge Reinhold, and to an even lesser extent Ray Liotta and Clive Owen, even though none of those guys look like each other. During the cab ride, the driver also mentions that he was approached to play one of the terrorists in United 93, but he turned it down. On 9/11: "You know, as a Muslim, it really pissed me off...those motherfuckers, excuse my French, they put a bad name on all Muslims."

Got to the impound, the cabbie took a picture of himself and me. He says, "I'll tell my wife I drove Tom Hanks today!" Cost of the tow: $185. Cost of a parking ticket I never saw because I was in the movie theatre all day: $115. Having the parking garage finally get with the program and give employee discounts: priceless. Well, actually, it's $2.50.

Add to all that the troubles with the DMV and the cost of insurance, I was ready to shitcan the car. But the problem is, where I live and where I work aren't very congruent for mass transit, especially if I'm out late and one of the buses just happens not to be running at a certain time. And this would be terrible during the awfully cold months. So, I decided to make the costly decision to keep the car.

Now, on to month two for real here--I was considering dropping the car again when I went out to my car to go to work one day and noticed the triangle window on the driver's side next to the back windshield had been smashed in. This is in a nice neighborhood on a random street. Someone smashed my window in, and then didn't take anything. I'll never know what the intent was. I tried to go to a Nissan dealership, but they were busy, and they recommended a place in Brooklyn, where I got the window replaced.

A side story to this is that while I was waiting for my car to be worked on, one of their employees, working on another car exactly like mine, says, "If you could do me a favor; take this car across the street where your car is parked, take your car into the garage, I'll have your window fixed in ten minutes." I worried a bit about driving someone else's car--having to do some U-turning, double-parking, and parallel parking (half-assed) all in one sequence of events. But I did it. That's one of the damnedest things. I don't think such a request would be made in Nashville--but it's a different place--we're talking about an area (NYC) that has no large amounts of parking and not as much room. You go to a place in Nashville to get a window fixed, it's got parking. Here, you have to park somewhere on the street and most of time hope not to get a ticket.

You know what the funny thing about New York's the little differences. Like, tiny differences in phrases. When you're at a restaurant, the cashier asks, "Is this to stay or to go?" whereas I've been used to "Is this for here or to go?" Also, people here wait "on line" rather than "in line." And when you buy a drink, whether it's a can of soda or a Snapple, you get a straw. And you see people use these straws--it's quirky to me to see people drinking a can of Diet Coke with a straw.

And the restaurants here--in Fresh Meadows I frequent a Tex-Mex/Chinese place. Yeah, that's right--they serve a full menu of those two distinct foods. And it's not even the only one of these I've ever seen. What's cool about places like these is that you often get a lot for your money. Like, a chicken quesadilla costs more than one at Taco Bell, but it also gives you a hell of a lot more chicken and fills you up better. There's also a pizza place down the street that serves Jewish/Kosher items. So you can buy a slice of cheese pizza and a knish.

Also--funny how things turn around. A couple of months ago I couldn't tell you where anything is. Now, I've been asked three times for directions and was able to speak competently like I lived here all my life. I have bussed, subwayed, and walked a ton since I've been here, and I know this area pretty damn well now.

Month Two has not been terribly eventful other than the window getting smashed and the trip to Coney Island to see the hot dog eating contest. My further activities on the 4th of July were halted because the mall in which I work is dastardly when it comes to security. On the roof of the movie theatre is an awesome view of the Manhattan skyline. For months, a door leading up to the roof of the movie theatre stood open. It's not like any average joes could just find themselves on the roof--you had to work there to get access. But someone in the powers that be at the mall has decided to lock that door and not allow anyone but those who absolutely need to be up there any access. And that discovery quite thwarted my plans to watch a spectacular fireworks show.

In fact, my main source of anger these days goes towards the security setup at the mall. I'm not talking about the individuals who work in security, because I've talked to a great many of them and they've all been nice. But there's a lot of stupid crap. Here's a picture of a fixture at Atlas Park:

Around this fountain pictured above is a circular parking lot. No one can park here. It is reserved for, well, mainly people who need it for whatever special reason, but I've also heard it's for VIPs or some bullcrap. But the thing never gets used to the point that one car is going to put a cramp in anyone's style. And my complaint isn't necessarily that I can't park there, but that if I have a genuine reason to park here, like the other day when I got an emergency call, I have to go through all this red tape to park there, and it seems like it's the biggest deal in the world. It's not so bad after hours, but anytime before that is a hassle and a half.

If you want to know any more about this mall, here's the website. No photos of the theatre, but for a sense of place, if you look at the above photo--it's to the right and up some stairs.

I'm hoping Month Three will be a little more exciting, maybe I can find some more to do. But right now, the debt I have from the move and the various mishaps has limited my ability to soak in New York as I'd like. Until then...


At 7/15/2006 07:52:00 PM, Blogger Amy said...

A knish! Damn, I wish I lived there. Seriously, there is nothing like a good knish. Ooooohhhhhh. . . the food in NYC is priceless. Go to Lombardi's (Little Italy) great pizza. Cheesecake--Lindy's.

Glad to hear things are going okay for you. I had to double check the trains when going around Manhattan in Feb. I kept forgetting Express vs. Regular.


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