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Wednesday was a bad day.

Sue and I drove into the city during the day on a weekday (against our better judgement).   We had to get our visa from the Swiss consular office on 3rd Avenue and East 41st street. We parked in a garage on the east side which cost $28 for under 2 hours.  Apparently, it must be quite a reasonable rate for midtown Manhattan.  Because when we returned, the garage was choked full with cars.  The two attendants had to move almost ten cars, including one that was parked inside the elevator, out onto the street and the sidewalk.  It took them almost 15 minutes to retrieve our car which was parked underground.

Then we went downtown so that Sue can exchange a shirt.  All the streets in Soho are signposted: “No Standing except Loading or Unloading on Monday to Friday 7am to 7pm”.  Since we were not shopping, we decided that there was no need to park the car.  I could stay in the car while Sue run into the shop.  We were near the intersection of Broadway and Prince Street, more or less outside Dean & DeLuca.  Traffic cops usually drive around in those golf cart-like buggy and wave the drivers to move along.  So I was on the lookout for them in front and in my mirrors.  There were lots of people out on the street at lunch time, though not as crazy as a weekend.  Seen in the side mirror, a guy was selling “Obama Condoms” on the street corner.

“Excuse me, can I see your driver’s license ?” –  a female traffic cop appeared at my window out of nowhere.  It was a cold day, she was all bundled up in dark blue.  I could barely see her badge.  I rolled down my window and pleaded, “Can I just leave now ?”.  She replied “May I have your license ?”.  I begged one more time.  She repeated the same request without any emotion.  What can I do but to hand my license over to her.  She punched my details into a handheld device and printed some money for NYC.  According to the Notice of Parking Violation that she dispensed to me, I was fined $95.

A few minutes later, Sue came back to the car and found me, reading the fine print and learning the various ways to pay the fine: mail, internet, phone and in person.  Punishment can be so convenient.  I guess it would save me time and might even lessen the pain – after all, time is priceless, right ?

“Let’s go home.”

“But, … how come the car is not starting?”  As I turned the ignition key, the car just made clicking noise and all the dashboard lights came on and then went off.  XM radio and GPS navigation were also offline.  We tried a few more times without success and realized the battery was drained.   It had never happened in this car before.  We were stranded in front of a hydrant in a No Standing zone on Broadway !  The Soho lunch crowd was thinning, and a couple of ladies were loading their bulging Prada shopping bags into their black limo which was waiting behind us.  A Brinks armored truck was parked on the other side of the street, while several armed guards were delivering/picking up cash.  Several regular cops walked by without paying us any attention.  We thought, if the day could get worse, we could be caught in the middle of a gun battle between the guards and armed robbers.  That did not happen.  But, the traffic cop might come back and write us another ticket.  Perhaps, we could tell her that the car would not start.  I wished I tried to start the car while she was asking me for the license, then at least I could use waiting for assistance as an excuse.

We needed help.  Because of our impending move, Sue did not renew her AAA membership which expired last month.   We cannot call them.  Murphy’s law – we never required their service in the last 5 years until yesterday.  Since this car had never developed any problem, we have no experience with Acura’s roadside assistance program.  It turned out to be easy, and the person on the phone was calm and reassuring.  I guess the person must have dealt with many people who were stranded in the middle of nowhere in bad weather at night.  “Pop-A-Lock” with a 718 area code was assigned the task – estimated time of arrival was 45 minutes.  I thought, with that wait time, the traffic cop was surely going to get us again.  Our assistance was coming from Queens or Brooklyn, having to brave bridge or tunnel traffic, to rescue us in downtown Manhattan.  Are there any car mechanic in Manhattan ?

Thankfully, the battery in my cell phone was freshly charged as they called back several times to assure us that help was on the way.  We missed lunch – a hot dog stand was situated right in front of us – but we had no appetite anyway.   They called – the ETA was pushed back by 10 minutes, but the guy finally came; the traffic cop did not.  He was a locksmith but contracted by Acura to jump start cars.  His cables connected our cars for 3 minutes and the Acura started right away.   We got home around 5 pm without any incident.  What a day !

The bad day was not completely bad.  We were not charged by Acura as the cost of jump starting was below the $100 limit above which we would have to pay.  The car has been fine since.  I drove it out to do errands yesterday and today with frequent starts and stops.

I am treating the parking ticket as a souvenir from the big apple.  Been there, done that, got caught.  – C

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2 Comments

  1. Yikes! I’m so sorry about your day :o( I hope things resolve soon for you. *hugs*

  2. I leave him alone for a few minutes and it cost us about a $100…*sigh*


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