This place sucks (now).
I’m sitting in my car on the side of street near my apartment in Astoria. A lady is sitting in her car in front of me. A few cars behind me a guy is just sitting in his car. I’m eating breakfast — a bowl of Greek yogurt with figs, blueberries, peanut butter, pecans, and pumpkin seeds. I settled in and relaxed. I’d be going nowhere soon — we’d all just be sitting in our cars on the side of the road for the next hour and a half until either a parking cop or street cleaner arrives.
NYC has alternate side parking so that the streets can be cleaned. This was suspended throughout the pandemic and had just started up again this week. The problem is that a huge amount of people still haven’t returned to work / are now working from home and restaurants have taken over parking spots in the street to provide more outdoor seating. It is difficult to find a place to put your vehicle in the best of times but with one side of the street off limits for cleaning it’s now impossible. So hundreds — probably even thousands — of us just sit out in our cars on the wrong side of the road and keep a look out for traffic cops.
I see one! She walked up to ticket the vehicle behind me. We scatter like flies. I go to the next block. 10 minutes later a street cleaner turns the corner. I start my engine and pull out in unison with a half dozen other drivers. I return to my street and park in front of my building. A lady in nurse scrubs pulls up behind me and just sits there. A guy in a business suit sits in the car in front of me. I watch as drivers fill in the blanks all down the street.
The weather gets hotter. I sweat through the back of my shirt and into the seat. What am I doing? I ask myself. Why am I here? Why do I want to be in a highly regulated city ruled by a hypocritical autocrat where masses of people have to sit in their cars for an hour and a half each week because there’s no room to park?
I could be upstate planting a garden. I could be on the beaches of Oaxaca. I could be in the hills of Taiwan. I could be in a free state that values civil liberties and doesn’t imprison their constituents in a disgusting game of partisan politics.
What am I getting out of being here?
I can’t say that coming to NYC was a mistake. No move in travel is a pot shot — some will hit the target and others won’t. NYC was always a gamble, something that was clear from the start. But what I could never have planned for was a for the city to implode — its rotten core spewing all over everyone. What you get here is no longer worth what you pay for it. I should have joined the exodus out in March.
But instead I violated the core precept of travel: always be moving to where the grass is greener.
When 10am hit we all quietly stepped out of our cars and walk off to do our days.
About the Author: VBJ
I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. VBJ has written 3679 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.
VBJ is currently in: Papa Bay, Hawaii
July 3, 2020, 3:57 pm
Nice to be back in this blog! 🙂
Take care in NY Wade.
July 3, 2020, 4:45 pm
Dang….I feel sorry for you. I hope you get out. I feel ya. I have chosen the sit near the ocean, plant a garden and watch whales phase. I couldn’t imagine sitting in my car just to move it…but who knows it could be coming for me in a couple of years.
You are completely right, this is all petty partisan games but very few seem to stand up. I can’t figure out if people are scared, accept it, stupid, obese, or biding their time to make a move. It is disgusting really. I went through a bad stretch for a couple of weeks, unfocused and arguing with people about the lockdown and the different standards held to protests and people who want to live their lives. But I let the media do it for me now. Nobody with half a brain can watch the news and not see the utter hypocrisy on display. But sadly, that doesn’t seem to translate into any rationale action. Maybe I am too pessimistic. As you said in a previous post. One old guy croaks in Melbourne and we are back on border restrictions, mass testing, cancellations of sporting events. This is not ending anytime soon.
Get to Mexico and if Australia ever opens its borders to anyone other than New Zealand, I will come and visit and we can go see some Lucha Libre.
July 3, 2020, 6:25 pm
You asked “what am I doing here?”
Everybody has to be somewhere …. Sometimes that’s just how it works out.
When this all started I believed what I was hearing/seeing on all the media, it scared me. After awhile I stopped to look around. I read a little history on the last couple of pandemics and even the last couple of flu seasons, I looked at the numbers and the on going coverage…
If this calmed down by the middle of November I would not be surprised.
July 4, 2020, 6:55 pm
What a mess the US is in – looking from the outside at least; seems visions of disintegration are on the horizon…
Anyway, I’m still roaming China – 🚐🏞🍺 – now in Sichuan. But who knows when a 2nd ‘real’ wave hits here (parts of Beijing got locked down again recently).
RE: Your last post. Mexico could be the answer as it seems like Eastern Europe may now get a harder hit (although in Serbia, you and Trevor could share chat, beer and pizza for at least a week).
Once upon a time … the life of a global nomad seemed so expansive, exciting and carefree.
July 6, 2020, 12:01 pm
That sounds like a tedious game
July 7, 2020, 7:54 am
You are being a grumpy old man. What are you doing here? 1. Your kids. They needed more stability. They wanted school and friends. We wanted them to be able to have an international community, a community that inspired ambition, creativity and success. 2. You wanted to have less financial responsibility so we looked for a place where I could make more money. This frees you up to work more on the projects you are passionate about rather than ones you feel you have to just to make money.
NYC is charmingly grumpy. Maybe the culture has rubbed off on you too much.