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Posts tagged ‘Car Wars’

Jury Duty Duty

Juror 4067

Juror 4067

I prayed for more snow and school closures. Dismayed there were only 2 inches of snow at 11 p.m., I reluctantly set my alarm for 6-ish a.m., knowing I’d snooze it after tuning in to WBAL radio to learn if the City Courts would be closed. My first Jury Duty in Maryland loomed ahead in the morning—a morning after Baltimore suffered an attack of snow.

Handicapped Ramp looking north, uphill, to St. Paul Street

Handicapped Ramp looking north, uphill, to St. Paul Street

Baltimore does not react well to snow. Whether it’s due to being full of Southerners who become panicky at the first flake of the white stuff, or the fact that people are used to driving recklessly (i.e. ”normally”) and get frustrated because icy conditions force them to think twice about passing a right-turning vehicle on the right for a change, driving here after a storm can be fraught with danger and obstacles. Although I thought I’d built in enough travel time to arrive at the Courthouse—after finding the parking garage—by the 8 a.m. call time, I did not factor in how impossibly choked the beautifully plowed I-83 would be at that hour.

Woe, how naïve l am. I’m glad I had a thermos of strong coffee in the car.

"Accessible Entrance on Fayette Street" sign

“Accessible Entrance on Fayette Street” sign

Jury Duty was still ahead of me and I was worn out from the trip! Less than 10 miles from town, it took me the better part of an hour to get to the parking garage. Waze failed finding an alternate route; actually my phone is on its last leg (phone fail imminent!) and kept shutting down mid-calculation. Fortunately I’d looked at the original directions before leaving home so I wasn’t entirely lost. That is, I wasn’t lost until I started heading toward the Courthouse. I pulled up a map, and intrepidly started the trek … only to find myself four blocks northwest of my destination and panicky because it was 8:35. LATE! will I be fined? Jailed? Told to come back another day?

And then the phone battery died. Again. Time for a new phone, for sure.

Drizzle dappled my non-compliant phone screen. Happily a woman told me which way to walk as her son had been on jury duty last week.

Limping due to a sciatica flare up, I found the building and the Fayette Street entrance with a ramp (which the Jury Summons instructed to use; the building’s address is on Calvert Street). The clerk told me to go out, walk up the block and around the corner, to the St. Paul Street entrance.

St. Paul Street Courthouse Entrance

St. Paul Street Courthouse Entrance

A statue of Cecilius Calvert, Baron Baltimore, etc. (see link for entire title), graces the St. Paul Street entranceway. So does a familiar blue Handicapped Entrance sign—at the bottom of a dozen-or-so steps—directing one to the first entrance I’d tried! I pulled myself up the first flight using the cold, wet handrail. My coat’s belt set off the metal detector, but luckily the sandwiches in my bag passed. I muddled anyway to the jury assembly room at 8:50. I had arrived!

The Jury Summons had assigned me Reporting Number 4067. Happily, by the time I entered, 4000 through 4100 had been invited to line up, check in, and get paid. $15 will cover the parking and the $1.50 diet Pepsi I bought from the machine in the Jury Assembly “Quiet Room.” With a bad case of “dead phone-itis,” I whipped out my extra-long phone card and charger I’d thoughtfully packed, found a plug, and settled down. Hmmm, no wi-fi. Sigh. Now that my “duty” had been done, I was ready for Jury Duty.

Or was I, I wondered?

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Dodging a Bullet

Broken Auto Glass

The car next to mine wasn’t so lucky.

Parking in Washington Heights, and I assume in all of Manhattan, plays like a game of roulette. Sometimes you win, sometimes you just have to try again. Closer to home is better, naturally, but I have parked nearly a mile away (20 minute walk without bags) a number of times. I can usually assess when parking will be found without cruising around. Certainly, after 10 p.m. you can forget about a parking space. That’s when I cruise over to my favorite lot and say ¡hola! to the guy who knows me (or my car) already. Gracias por tu ayuda, and hand over $12 in the morning.

I had parked Freddie Ford on the Friday side and today is Friday. I hastened up the hill to rescue Freddie before the parking tickets would begin to multiply. Sweating profusely, I walked along Amsterdam Avenue, nearly ¾ of a mile from home, where I’d placed my car the other day after a fruitless half hour of riding around (before 8:30 p.m. yet!).  I noticed broken glass glistening in the street in already empty spaces. A frisson of fear ran along my back and I walked further down the row.

The car next to mine had been broken into, apparently. I feel like I dodged a bullet. Already on three occasions I found Freddie’s driver’s side mirror missing. I didn’t need to deal with broken auto glass.

Could it be that the thieves had compassion because there was a crushed liquor mini under the rear tire? Maybe they sensed that the CD changer doesn’t work and it frequently doesn’t play CDs either. It’s probably more so that my car is older and uninteresting. (Sorry, Freddie.) Blah. I keep the interior clean-ish without anything enticing peeking out. Likewise the trunk space is empty. There are some maps in the door pockets and a snow brush (in June!) on the back seat floor.

Freddie Ford now sits patiently in a Wednesday side of the street space, waiting for his next big adventure. I’m glad “he” is patient!

Wrecked on Broadway

Wrecked Camry in the Bronx on Broadway

Wrecked Camry in the Bronx under the 1-Train tracks on Broadway

Today’s blog comments on a scene not far from Washington Heights. I moved my car for the first time in two weeks the other day. No snow, no Alternate Side Parking. Bad news: a tire was flat. I drove slowly to the gas station and filled it with enough air to get me to the tire shop in Riverdale. Preparing for a bit of a wait, I walked down Broadway to the supermarket to get something to drink and came across this ruin.

The wreck sits under the 1-Train tracks. It has been moldering here at least since last fall, six months or so, judging from the dead leaves inside and around it. Ironically, a white police cruiser sits across the street, and two cars over is a black auxiliary police car. You would think that the police know about this eyesore and would be doing something to have it removed. I can’t fathom why it’s been here so long. The owner must be known; the front license plate is still affixed!

An intact shoe rests on the driver’s side rocker panel contrasting oddly with the condition of this wrecked Toyota Camry. How odd, I thought, my curiosity piqued. I walked around it noting the totally shattered windshield, the flayed innards, rusted metal, nightmarish wires jutting out, and the oddly unmolested back seat. I prayed that nobody was in it when it got crushed. No one could have lived through an accident that would cause this much damage.

What story could this car tell? What happened to cause this damage? And how did a lone shoe come to rest here, of all places?

Snow Removal Spectator Sport

Watching Sanitation trucks grapple with week-old snow

Watching Sanitation trucks grapple with week-old snow

Grateful I’m not in Boston. On Wednesday, a 43-foot yacht snarled downtown traffic after getting caught in a snowbank.

On Wednesday, the first Alternate Side Parking day in over a week, I watched the City Sanitation snow removal crews wrangle the boulders of icy snow that had accumulated while everyone stayed parked snugly in their spots. FOUR big trucks and a city vehicle were there to ensure that our street was as smooth as could be.

We’ve had some snow—not as much as Boston, for sure—and the city’s been in a tizzy. Alternate Side Parking was suspended for about two weeks so crews could handle snow removal. How many days did you leave your car in the same space rather than take shovel and ice choppers to free it? (Eleven, for me.)

Three plows and a salt spreader aided snow removal at one time

Three plows and a salt spreader aided snow removal at one time

When the owner of a Jeep couldn’t move it out of the way, being locked in by icy mounds, one of the guys drove it after plowing a bit around it, like a buckaroo handling a wild horse! One of the other guys shoveled chunks into the center of the road to be plowed over and spread out to melt in the sun.

Recently covered with snow chunks, Big Orange smoothed the street

Big Orange smoothed the street

I’m so thankful for the Sanitation guys. They take my trash and recycling, then attach plows to the fronts of the garbage trucks to plow. These guys, however, are the heroes of this week, since no more snowfall occurred, and they’re just cleaning up last week’s mess.

No yachts.

First Snow

The first snow fell on Bennett Avenue the day before Thanksgiving. Big, wet, gloppy clumps that turned to slush hit the cars and street. It didn’t seem cold enough to stick (it didn’t), and already, rivulets of meltwater flowed down the gutter. The weathermen predicted this would be the first snowy Thanksgiving since 1988. Hah! We were preparing for our turkey dinners and the storm-that-didn’t-come. Still, I needed to move my car – it was Alternate Side Parking day on the Wednesday side of the street. I went downstairs, saw snow on the windshield, and did my happy dance. Snow!!

The First Snow barely stuck to the car.The car looked odd, though, off balance. NO!!!!! The driver’s side mirror was missing. A glance at the street revealed black plastic smithereens and mirror shards laughing at me. The double-parking demon decided to bedevil me. Clipped again! Four times in 3 years is four times too many. Did that driver even realize what happened? Sigh.

Cleaned off the windshield, double-parked the car on the Friday side, and joined some neighbors on the front step. Though the air was frigid, we chatted and watched the snow come down and finally stop … until it was time to move our cars again.

 

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