Parking in New York is complicated. There are people, probably city-dwelling individuals (who, by the way, don’t even own a car) who will try to convince you otherwise. Don’t listen to them. If you are fortunate enough to find a spot (pumps obviously don’t count), you will notice that somewhere near the spot is a green post-like object with (if you’re lucky a meager) five different signs on it indicating where you can and cannot stand and/or park at what times, when the Muni-meters are and are not in effect, how long you can park there if they are or aren’t, etc., etc. You know you’re missing something when you get through all the signs and realize that according to your probably mistaken understanding, your car simultaneously may and may not be parked in the space in which you just parked it.
I was in the city one night this past week, and after finding a spot, taking few moments to decipher all the signs on the green post (It is NOT Tuesday between 9Am and 1PM, it IS a weekday between 9 AM and 7PM, so I CAN park here and the Muni-meters ARE in effect), I headed over to the Muni-meter to purchase my ticket. I placed my credit card in the slot and the screen lit up, flashed neon green, and proceeded to inform me that my (and I quote) “transaction is incomplete.” So I’m standing there, pulling my credit card in and out (because of course if it didn’t work the first five times it will obviously work the sixth time) when a man walks up to me and says cheerfully, “You only need 25 cents!” I thanked him and explained that my credit card seemed to be malfunctioning, pulled it out and told him to please go ahead of me. He slipped his quarter into the slot and the machine instantaneously printed out a receipt for him to place in his window. I took out my wallet and started looking for change (who carries change?) when the man slipped another quarter into the machine, pressed “add time” and handed me the receipt that, of course, rolled right out. “There you go,” he said, smiling and handing it to me. “Thank you very much,” I said, touched and somewhat taken aback, “but really, please let me pay you back.” I handed him a quarter’s equivalent in nickels and dimes. “Don’t worry about it,” he laughed. “Give it to a good person,” I insisted. “You are a good person,” he said and walked right off.
I know, it’s only 25 cents, but it’s the thought, the gesture, the fact that I’ll never be able to repay him or help him out in any way at all, and still . . .
I think I’m starting to like New Yorkers.